The Crozier
Symbol of Episcopal Authority
The crozier is a staff shaped like a shepherd's crook that symbolizes the authority of a bishop or abbot. When a new bishop is ordained, the crozier is presented to him with the words "Take this staff of pastoral office, and be forceful in correcting vice, judge without anger, be gentle in promoting virtue in the souls of those who hear you, and in tranquility do not neglect to censure severely" (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Crosier.")

Croziers have been found in catacombs dating from the 4th century, and their in liturgical functions goes back at least as far as the 5th (ibid.).

In form and symbolic value the crozier closely resembles the heqa pictured on images of the pharoahs of Egypt and the Roman governors who succeeded them (Dunn). In the cult of Isis that was widespread in the first few centuries A.D., that goddess was portrayed holding a heqa as a symbol of her authority.
Cleopatra VII and her son Caesarion make offerings to Isis, who holds a heqa in her left hand symbolizing her authority.
Source: John Bartram, "Cleopatra VII and Rome."

Prepared in 2018 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.

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St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, with his crozier. (See the description page.)


The symbols of Tutankhamen's authority: a flail and a heqa.
Photo by JRS, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.