Sep 13, 2010

What's A Crosier?

Simply put, a crosier is a staff used by bishops and abbots. The Irish crosier was a little different than those used in mainland Europe. From Ask About Ireland:
"...crafted in Ireland from the eight or ninth century up until the end of the twelfth century. The origins of the Irish-crosier, like its continental counterpart, lie in the shepherd's crook. Both abbots and bishops carried them as insignia of their office and they signify the pastoral care of the congregation. However, Irish-crosiers demonstrate a divergence from the main tradition of crosiers in the Western Church. The significant difference is the distinctive shape of the head, which curves in a crook shape with the addition of a short pendant drop at its extremity. This is in contrast to the volute or simple walking stick shape of contemporary English and Continental examples."

The picture above on the left is The Kells Cosier, which is held at the British Museum. It has been altered over the centuries. It is made of yew wood encased in bronze.

There are many stories about the saints working miracles with their crosiers. St. Maedoc supposedly halted an invading army by using his crosier to draw a line around himself and his people and their cattle that the army was unable to cross. One man tried, as the story goes, and instantly dropped dead. It was believed that these crosiers were given directly from God. Such a gift was so valuable that there were penalties for stealing them that were even more severe than what was imposed for stealing a gospel book.

The most famous Irish crosier was the Staff of Jesus, said to have been given to St. Patrick.


  1. I am interested in the Crosier of St.Dymnia. There are no pictures on Google of this crosier even though it is in the Irish National Museum