Friday, 11 May 2018

The Pectoral Cross


Giuseppe Albrizzi showing the cross Pope Francis uses.
When Pope 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
The cross 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.
Detail of Pope Francis' pectoral cross

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