Croziers of the 11th & 12th Centuries

2 Oct

A trip to the National Museum of Ireland proved to be far from mundane, as the term museum may suggest. As I wandered through halls of ancient artifacts from Celtic to Viking, I was taken on a journey through thousands of years of history, the likes of which my home country of the United States can only read about.

There were many awe inspiring pieces to be found, from the beautifully crafted jewelry and weaponry, to the old shoes of children and adults which reminded me that these were people just like us.

It soon became apparent finding one artifact to write about may be harder than I thought, but just as I was wrapping up my visit, a tall glass box caught my eye. Inside was what I believed to be two staffs, ones that a bishop or some other churchly figure would possess.  They were silver and gold, and stood a foot above me on their pedestal. These objects are called “croziers”, which according to Wikipedia means “the stylized staff of office (pastoral staff) carried by high-ranking Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, some Lutheran and Pentecostal prelates.” At first they looked simple enough, but on close examination the detail was impeccable.Image

On the handle of the croziers, faces and people were carved into the metal, as well as many other beautiful symbols and artwork. They were ornate with jewels and colors that had long since begun to fade, however I could still make out how incredible they had once been. It was rather disappointing when the camera on my phone couldn’t capture all that the artifact had to offer.

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These croziers would be used by abbots or bishops, and are among the most highly decorated church objects of the 11th and 12th centuries.  Although predominantly a religious object, the inscriptions found on some may suggest religious and political figures were closely entwined. In some cases the church was funded by key political figures, and therefore names of these figures would be carved into the croziers themselves. The artifact represents power in Irish history across many areas, and the beauty in its craftsmanship clearly portrayed this.

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