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The right staff: a special crosier for Bishop Nulty on St Patrick’s Day

By Cian Molloy - 18 March, 2019

Bishop Denis Nulty

A very special crosier was wielded by Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin this St Patrick’s Day weekend.

Bishop Nulty carried with him a crosier originally presented in 1921 to one of his predecessors, Bishop Patrick Foley, on the silver jubilee of his consecration as a member of the hierarchy.

The crosier, which incorporates a strong shamrock motif, was particularly appropriate for use by a bishop on St Patrick’s Day, given that our national patron saint was originally brought to this land as a slave, charged with working as a shepherd on the sides of Slemish mountain in Co Antrim.

A crosier is a staff of authority, often stylised to represent a shepherd’s crook – a fitting symbol for a bishop who is seen as a leader of a flock.

The pointed ferrule, at the base of a crosier, symbolises the obligation of a prelate to goad the spiritually lazy; the crook at the top symbolises  a bishop’s obligation to draw back those who stray from the faith and the staff itself represents a bishop’s obligation to stand as a firm support for the faithful.

The crosier was originally presented to Bishop Foley by the Carlow branch of the Sodality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a fraternity that is no longer as active as it once was in Ireland, but which still has adherents in parts of Africa.

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