Woodcarved Crozier in Neo-Gothic Style by Catholic Wood Carver Paul Sirba

 Photo: OC-Travel

As everyone knows, the crozier (baculus pastoralis) is a hooked staff carried by bishops and abbots, symbolic of their pastoral office.  It was originally carried by shepherds to lead and direct the flock entrusted to their care and to rescue lost sheep by pulling them back to safety and order in the one flock.  Its liturgical usage probably dates from the seventh century (Council of Toledo, 633).  

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary to the Archbishop of St. Paul, had his beautiful crozier hand-carved by local woodcarver, Paul Sirba.  The crozier can be seen in the above photo, taken last Sunday.  In the past LAJ has featured Paul's work, highlighting his contributions and artistic achievements, exploring a few of his Neo-Gothic projects, projects that make a genuine contribution to the study of living liturgical arts.   It is immensely satisfying to see the art of woodcarving being preserved locally and making a comeback with competent young artists such as Paul who are so capable and achieve such a complement of beauty in the rites.  Indeed, these young artists must be encouraged and we owe them a debt of gratitude and an obligation to keep then gainfully employed.  There is more work to be done -- let us keep up the momentum and busy them with work.  

There is an article worth sharing here that highlights Paul's creation of this beautiful crozier, a product of his woodworking shop, published online by The Catholic Spirit, entitled The Woodcarver's Faith, Talents Go Into Cozzens' Crosier.  I encourage bishops and abbots to seek out Paul to order a similar crozier, especially seeing as many bishops have more than one.  As a side note, most croziers today are made of gilded brass.  A common custom in Rome was gold croziers for cardinals and patriarchs and silver versions for archbishops and bishops.  Cistercian abbots made use of a wooden crozier in non-pontifical functions, while croziers made of precious wood, ivory, metal and metallic mountings have always been seen.  The crozier is a sign of jurisdiction - the pope does not use a crozier because he has universal jurisdiction.  In the Latin church the crozier is traditionally not used on Good Friday or at Requiem Masses.  This version designed by Paul includes the bishop's coat-of-arms, which is most fitting, customarily placed on personal property in the bishop's household.  Paul's style of design shows a complete aesthetic with an understanding of proportion, harmony, fittingness, appropriate detail and order (in fact, there is a secret mathematical harmony behind every form of such artistic beauty).   

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.