St Nicholas Crozier

St Nicholas Crozier

St Nicholas Crozier
Winchester, England (probably)
1150 - 1170
Carved ivory
Width 11 cm x height 12 cm
Museum No. 218-1865

Bishops, and sometimes abbots, carry a crozier as a symbol of office. It resembles the crook used by a shepherd when looking after his flock. This crozier shows scenes relating to Jesus Christ and St Nicholas. At the end of the volute (or scroll) an angel supports the Lamb of God, a symbolic image of Christ. Its head is now missing. On the other side is the Nativity (or birth) of Christ. Angels appear to shepherds and announce Christ's birth on one side of the shaft.

The rest of the crozier shows three scenes from the Life of St Nicholas. According to tradition, St Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, a town in Asia Minor, in the late Roman period. The first scene depicts his birth. The choice of scenes suggests that the crozier was made for a bishop or abbot who was either named after the saint or in charge of a foundation (cathedral or monastery) dedicated to him. This crozier is one of the finest achievements of the ivory carver's art.