French, made in Limoges
Gilded copper; champlevé enamel; glass cabochons; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.833)
As early as the sixth century, the pastoral staff, or crozier, conveyed the authority of a bishop, abbot, or abbess. The volute of this elegant example is in the form of a serpent grasping an enameled flower in its mouth. The volute's imagery resembles that found on other enamel croziers from Limoges. It alludes to the rod of Moses that, in the presence of Pharaoh, miraculously turned into a serpent at the command of God, and to the flowering rod of Aaron, symbol of his election to the priesthood by God (Exod. 7:912; Num. 17:68).