ROME — At last evening’s Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis carried a crosier that most people associate with Blessed John Paul II.
As a matter of fact, though, Pope Paul VI commissioned the work from Italian sculptor Lello Scorzelli in 1963, and used it for the first time Dec. 8, 1965, at the official closing of the Second Vatican Council. Formally known as a “ferula” in Italian, the pastoral staff was unusual not only because it was rough-hewn and silvery, but because the cross included a corpus. Popes John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI later used it.
In 1990, Scorzelli made Blessed John Paul a second cross, similar in design, but lighter. The office of the papal master of ceremonies said the crosier used by Pope Francis last night was the original made for Pope Paul.
Almost exactly five years ago — Palm Sunday 2008 — Pope Benedict began using a pastoral staff topped with a cross, not a crucifix. The golden crosier had been a gift to Blessed Pius IX in 1877 to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop. In November 2009, Pope Benedict was given a new crosier, based on the same design, which he used at liturgies until his retirement.
However, Pope Benedict continued to use Scorzelli’s design for the crucifix on the rosaries he handed out as gifts.