Crosier (Pastoral Staff)
Crosier (Pastoral Staff)
Crosier (Pastoral Staff)
Crosier (Pastoral Staff)

c. 1515


Dom Museum Wien
On loan from St. Stephen's Cathedral


Liturgical object
Medieval art

On view

Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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A Bishop's insignia

The crosier shows typical decorations of the high gothic style: architectural elements and the Madonna grace this insignia of a bishop.

The crosier from St. Stephen’s has a plainly ornamented silver shaft; the parts of it below a cord-shaped ring can be taken apart. Above the ring sits a rich and intricately designed knob. As was common in the late Gothic period, it is a miniature rendering of typical architectural elements of the era. The knob presents itself as a six-sided “chapel shell” whose faces are entirely broken up into Gothic window tracery. The contrast of light and shadow that this creates particularly brings out the delicate geometric patterns. The lintels consist of flat round arches—elements which already anticipate the Renaissance in style. The edges of the central building are accentuated by tender spired pillars and also are openwork.

The knob is topped by a polygonal plate, and above that, there is the crook, as the crosier’s curved or coiled upper end is called. Curving above a short perpendicular section, it is approximately circular in shape and, where it comes full circle, ends in an outspread blossom base that carries the half-figure of a Madonna surrounded by rays. She holds the naked infant Jesus in her arm. What should be drawn attention to is the luxuriant decorative foliage along the outer edge of the crook: long and slender leaves coil into balls here and wind along like swiftly creeping caterpillars.
The crosier symbolizes the bishop’s pastoral duties as “shepherd of the flock of God” and is one of his insignia of office.