The Pectoral Cross
A pectoral cross (from the Latin “pectoralis” which means “of the chest”) or crucifix is worn on a long chain around the neck so that it rests on the chest, and is worn especially by bishops, abbots, and priests, and any prelate entitled to use the papal insignia. The cross may be modest, or more ornamental with precious stones. Sometime it contains a relic of the cross or of a saint. Innocent III, 1161 – 1216, is said to be the first pope to wear a pectoral cross, which became more commonly used as time went on. Pope St. Pius V (1504 – 1572) made the wearing of one mandatory for bishops.
Pope Francis’ Pectoral Cross
When a bishop is elected pope, one of his first tasks is to decide on the style of his cross. Pope Francis’ choice was a bit controversial for he opted not to include the traditional body of Jesus on his cross. Rather, the Holy Father chose a design where Jesus is portrayed as a shepherd.
When Pope St. Paul VI visited the US in 1965, he asked that his cross and a diamond ring be auctioned off, with proceeds given to human relief funds. The two pieces originally sold for $64,000, and the money was divided among four UN agencies. In 2014, the 18K gold cross, decorated with diamonds and emeralds was valued at $1.25 million dollars when its current owners placed it up for auction.
The Pectoral Crosses in the Papal Artifacts’ Collection
A rare and beautiful pectoral cross from the Jubilee year of 1826–the extension.
The crucifix has the cruciform, an image of the Holy Spirit, images of Saints Peter and Paul outside the arms of Christ, and on the reverse side, images of the cross keys and tiara, symbols of the popes, together with the 1826 Jubilee Year of Pope Leo XII.
The Pectoral Cross is in excellent condition and is a beautiful addition to the Papal Artifacts’ Collection.
About the Jubilee Year, 1825:
More than half a million pilgrims journeyed to Rome for the 19th Holy Year, for which Pope Leo XII substituted Santa Maria in Trastevere for St Paul’s as a pilgrimage site, since the latter was being rebuilt after a fire.
The 1825 Jubilee Year was extended into 1826, making this a rare addition to the Collection.
In 1850, unsettled conditions in Rome, with the temporary exile of Pope Pius IX, prevented calling a Holy Year.
Pectoral Cross Given by Pope Paul VI to Bishops in the Bogota Synod of 1968
A pectoral cross was given as a gift from Pope Paul VI to all bishops participating in the Bogota Synod of 1968.
This cross is in its original case with his coat of arms on the cover. Enrico Manfrini, the famous Italian artist, designed this cross.