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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Staff, Pastoral

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a symbol of episcopal authority, resembling a shepherd's crook, and pointed at the end as an emblem both of encouragement and correction. It was originally a simple walking stick with a plain head or a cross piece at the top. The Russian bishops use one with two curved heads. It was eventually wrought into very elaborate forms; but was, at length, generally discarded, except by the patriarch (q.v.) who retained it in its primitive form. The pope gave up, the use of the staff in the middle of the 12th century, and cardinal bishops no longer carry it. The early staffs were mostly made of cypress wood, and afterwards of ivory, copper gilt, crystal, and precious metals richly. carved, jeweled, or enameled. Between 1150 and 1280 the crook was often formed of a serpent (the old dragon), or contained St. Michael or the lion of Judah, and at a later period the prelate praying before his patron saint. Beautiful crocheted work was also added on the exterior of the crook. The French abbot's staff has its crook turned inward, to show that his jurisdiction extended only over his house, while the bishop's crook turned outward, to denote his external jurisdiction over his diocese. In the Penitential of Theodore and the Ordo Romanus the bishop gave the abbot his staff and sandals. The banner on the staff was originally a handkerchief. Fine specimens of staffs are, preserved those of Wykeham, of silver-gilt, enameled, at New College; of Fox, at Corpus Christi College; of Laud, at St. John's College, Oxford; of Smith, of the 17th century, at York; of Mews and Trelawney, at Winchester. Others are to be seen in the British Museum, the Museum Clugny, at Chichester, and Hildesheim. (See PASTORAL STAFF).

It was ordered by the first book of Edward VI that "whensoever the bishop shall celebrate the holy communion in the church, or execute any other ministration, he shall have his pastoral staff in his hand, or else borne or holden by his chaplain." When, however, Dr. Matthew Parker was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, in December 1559, no pastoral staff was delivered to him. Its delivery was prescribed in the Ordinal of 1550, but not by that of 1552. From that time the staff has been generally disused, although the bishops of Oxford, Chichester, Rochester, Salisbury, Honolulu, Capetown, and some other colonial prelates, have resumed its use. (See CROSIER).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Staff, Pastoral'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/staff-pastoral.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Staff