You may have noticed a bishop’s or pope’s pectoral cross at one time or another. The words “pectoral” means “on the chest”, which is precisely how it is used by bishops, abbots, cardinals and popes. It is odd to realize that the pectoral cross with its accompanying chain was worn in ancient and medieval times not only by clergy but also by laity as well. However by the end of the Medieval period this insignia was only worn by bishops and other high-ranking Church officials.
Today the pectoral cross is much larger than the crosses worn by many Christians. Its design can be a crucifix – that is, a cross with a corpus (the body of Jesus); other designs include more stylized designs and symbols. Generally it hangs from the neck and is worn in the center of the chest below the heart (as opposed to just below the collarbones) and can even contain relics of a saint.
The Cross of Pope Francis
The maker of Pope Francis’s Pectoral Crossgives the following explanation:
“The copyrighted original version of Pope Francis Pectoral Cross was created by the Italian craftsmen Antonio Vedele. The cross is also, know as the Papa Francesco Cross or Papa Francisco Cross.
“The beauty of the cross is the meaning and simplicity it depicts: Christ the Good Shepherd leading the flock and carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. On the top of the cross is depicted the Holy Spirit. The cross is beautiful highly detailed silver oxidized die cast and is made in Italy.
Facts about the Cross
“This cross is not made by a goldsmith from the Vatican, but it is a work of a small artisan master craftsmen, Giuseppe Albrrizzi in Pavia, Italy. However, as Albrizzi explains himself, the original design of the cross was made by his teacher, the craftsmen, Antonio Vedele: "The cross was made by me, but it was drawn by my teacher, Antonio Veldele, for whom I worked until 1978. I am grateful for everything he had taught me, the teacher who created the cross of Pope Francis." (Source: UPA Federimpresa). Antonio Vedele died in 1997.
“The original Pope Francis cross is made of sterling silver and weights approximately 80 grams. Pope Francis has been wearing this cross since he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The copyrighted official version of Pope Francis cross has artist’s signature (Vedele) engraved on the back as well on the front on most sizes, and the cross comes with a small card with a seal for authenticity.”
The Pastoral Vision of Pope Francis
The elements of the design of Pope Francis’s special pectoral cross seem to reflect well his pastoral emphasis to be the Bishop of Rome, its Shepherd, who reaches out ceaselessly to the lost sheep of the people of God and far beyond the limits of the Church of God. He is seen by many as a true “good shepherd” to all who are in need of God’s mercy and love.
Also his efforts in listening to the Holy Spirit are expressed well in the upper part of his cross design. His welcoming input from the Spirit present in the laity as well as the clergy for the forthcoming “Synod on the Family” is a singular sign of his belief that the Holy Spirit is still actively guiding the Church of God.