Countdown to Ordination: The Bishop's Crosier
Bishops are easily recognized by their regalia: mitre, pectoral cross, ring, crosier and other emblems and garments that are distinctive to the Order of Bishop. Many of these symbols date back to the Middle Ages and continue to be used as a sign of office.
When the Rev. Deon Johnson becomes Bishop Deon Johnson, he will receive many gifts that carry on this tradition. But along with the tradition and symbolism, Bishop-elect Deon is selecting items that reflect his own style, personality and history. We’ll take a look at some of those items in this special series of articles.
The Bishop’s Crosier
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Perhaps nothing embodies Jesus’ life more than the story of the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. He will lay down his life for the sheep. There are many beautiful pieces of art around the world picturing Jesus with his sheep and his shepherd’s staff.
That may be why one of the most recognizable symbols of a bishop is the bishop’s staff -- also called the crosier (also spelled crozier). The crosier has a curved or hooked top, similar in appearance to a traditional shepherd’s staff. It is an object that is not only symbolic of the bishop’s role as Chief Shepherd or Pastor, but also of the governing office of the bishop. It is a symbol of mercy and compassion, but also of firmness and the correction of vices.
“The Crozier reminds the bishop that as shepherd, there is a need sometimes to both pull and push the church into God’s dream,” said Bishop-elect Deon Johnson. “It is also a walking staff which means that the bishop is called to walk alongside the people who are in ministry.”
When the Rev. Deon Johnson is ordained and consecrated as our 11th bishop on June 13, retiring Bishop Wayne Smith will pass his crosier to the new bishop. That staff has been passed down for generations in our diocese. It is the “official” crosier of the bishop and will be used at ordinations, confirmation and baptisms.
But the crosier the new bishop will use on a more regular basis, sometimes called his pastoral staff, is a gift from the bishop-elect’s family. The top of this staff is made from a blend of three types of wood from Missouri, his new home. The bottom of the staff comes from a processional cross used at St. Paul’s in Brighton, Michigan, where Bishop-elect Deon served as rector before our election. The crosier was crafted in St. Louis by William Turner & Associates Woodworkers.
St. Paul’s in Brighton has also commissioned a third crosier for the new bishop made out of the same wood as the altar in the church after their 2014 renovation. It incorporates purple heart wood with a matching case. Bishop-elect Deon says this staff will most likely be used on special occasions and live primarily at the cathedral.
Next week, we'll take a look at some of the beautiful vestments made especially for our new bishop.