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Crozier - Bishops' Staff - Posoch - Zezel - Pilgrim's Staff

In the course of my research on clerical headdresses I frequently came across pictures of prelates (bishops, abbots, cardinals,...) carrying a

crozier, crook, shepherd's staff, hooked staff, pósokh, paterissa, bakteria, rabdos, baculus pastoralis, abbot's staff, pastoral staff, pedum,virga, pilgrim's staff.

I was interested in the terms referring to these staffs.
The following works provide with detailed information on the history and symbolic significance of these staffs:

Klauser, Theodor: Der Ursprung der bischöflichen Insignien und Ehrenrechte, Scherpe Verlag, Krefeld 1953

Salomon, Pierre: Mitra und Stab – Die Pontifikalinsignien im Römischen Ritus, Mainz 1963, Mathias-Grünwald-Verlag

Nersinger, Ulrich: Der Kreuzstab des Papstes, published by L'Osseravtore Romano, German weekly version on 21 March 2008, page 7 (Ulrich Nersinger Der Kreuzstab des Papstes (1647 KB))

Nersinger, Ulrich: Insignien und Gewandung des Papstes - einst und jetzt - Ferula und Kreuzstab in: Pro Missa Tridentina, circular nr. 26, June 2003, ISSN 1610-4927

Article published in L'Osservatore Romano: Der neue Kreuzstab von Papst Benedikt XVI.
Artikel published in Bollettino di Circolo San Pietro: "UN NUOVO PASTORALE PER IL SANTO PADRE BENEDETTO XVI."
(A new ferula was used by Pope Benedict XVI for the first time on 29 Nov 2009.)

The following websites may also be useful for a quick overview:

Wikipedia - Krummstab
P. W. Hartmann Kunstlexikon - Bischofsstab
[all entries German only]
P. W. Hartmann Kunstlexikon - Abtstab

P. W. Hartmann Kunstlexikon - Taustab

P. W. Hartmann Kunstlexikon - Pedum

Pictures of croziers

Pictures of croziers of orthodox bishops, straight staff with an embellished knob intended for non-liturgical usage.
Pózokh (russ.: Посох )
Rabdos (greek)


Pictures of staffs of the archbishop/ patriarch:
The two bent ends lead to two heads of snakes forming a circle around the cross at the top of the staff.

Zezel (russ.: Жезл )
Paterissa (greek)


"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1st Corinthians 1,18) - that is to recognize the cross as a symbol of true sagacity, neither neither to be offended in the cross of Christ, nor to dismiss it as foolery, but to recognize power and wisdom in the cross of God(cf. Kunzler, Michael: Archieratikon, Paderborn, 1998, Seite 147).

Images of zezel intended for bishops [tau-shaped crosier: a crosier with a head shaped similar to the letter "T". The term derives from the Greek letter * Tau ("T")]

Image "Ferula meets zezel"

Images of the ferula

The straight crosier of the Pope is called ferula genannt. The staff on display below had been designer by the sculptor Lello Scorzelli, Neapel, on behalf of Pope Paul VI. It was manufactured by silversmith Manlio Del Vecchio and was also carried by John Paul II. It was subsequently passed on to Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI carrying the ferula of Pope Pius IX on Palm Sunday (16 March 2008)



Ferula of Pope Benedict XVI, carried for the first time on 29 Nov 2009.

Ferula Papst Benedikt XVI.


Ferulal Pope Benedict XVI

Image of a staff with triple papal cross
used by Pope John Paul II at the opening of the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica during Jubilee Year (25 March 1983)

Images of pilgrims' staffs

Pope John Paul II carrying a baptismal staff as pilgrim's staff (Santiago de Compostela, Aug 1989)


Benedict XVI carrying a pilgrim's staff made by master wood turner Wolfgang Klaritsch, Graz, at his visit to the sanctuary of Mary at Mariazell, Austria, on 8 Sept 2007.

By the way, it is made from yew, a local pinetree. The fastener, that is the piece connecting the upper and lower end of the staff, is made from solid silver. "The pilgrim's staff of the Holy Father is unique. I turned it by hand", said Klaritsch. He produced a whole six staffs altogether before he was finally satisfied with the result.

Pilgrim's staff of honour at the pilgrimage of Regensburg Regensburger Fußwallfahrt


Images of an abbot's staff
A piece of cloth, the so-called pannisellus (>lat. pannus = cloth) is tied to the pole of the abbot's staff, at about the height where one will rest one's hand while carrying it. It emerged during the 13th century and served as a marker to distinguish the staff from the bishop's staff. Moreover, it was meant to keep the staff clean from the sweat on the carrier's hand which is why it is also referred to as sudarium or sudalorium.

Image: Abbott Gregory of the Cistercian abbey Stift Heiligenkreuz, Heiligenkreuz at Wienerwald (Austria)