Giuseppe Albrizzi showing the cross Pope Francis uses.
Francis was elected in March 2013, everyone was surprised when he appeared at
the balcony of the Basilica of St Peter’s, mostly because he was dressed in
white, and not in the pontifical red cape or mozzetta and golden pectoral cross. Most people were curious to
find out what was on the cross he had on his chest, and very quickly the news
spread that it was a simple cross that he had used as a bishop and a Cardinal
in Buenos Aires. The cross was crafted by Giuseppe Albrizzi, who runs a
religious articles business in Rome Arredi Sacri di Giuseppe Albrizzi. He
actually recognized his cross as soon as Pope Francis appeared in the balcony.
It was actually purchased by a friend of Archbishop Bergoglio (Pope Francis)
who in the summer of 1998 was elevated to Bishop, and this person wanted to buy
him a gift, and bought the cross made from silver. At first the pectoral cross
appeared dark, which led many to think it was made of iron, but it had turned
dark because of handling, people kissing it, and ‘as if the world’s suffering
had been impressed on it, darkening it,’ as the Pope once said.
Pope Francis, the day he was elected Pope in March 2013
portrays the Good Shepherd – Jesus is in the foreground, a lamb on his
shoulders; behind, and following him, there is a herd of sheep. A dove flies
above, recalling the presence of the Holy Spirit. For centuries, the pectoral
cross worn by the Pope, bishops and cardinals has been the symbol of prestige
and temporal power. Crosses were made from gold, and embellished with gems and
precious stones. The pectoral cross (from the Latin pectoralis, ‘of the chest’) was first used by Pope Hilarius in 461
AD, and in 811, we hear that Nicephorus, the Patriarch of Constantinople sent
Pope Leo III a gold pectoral cross, and in the course of time, it has become
customary for the Roma Pontiff to wear this type of cross on most solemn
occasions. Actually Pope Francis was offered a gold cross to wear by Monsignor
Guido Marini, the Vatican Master of Ceremonies, but he preferred to keep the
Good Shepherd cross, which he kept using ever since.