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Personal significance of Archbishop Russell's insignia

By Donis Tracy Pilot Correspondent
Posted: 6/10/2016

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The Cardinal presents Archbishop Russell with the crosier. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

The insignia, or symbols, of the office of bishop each have special importance. In the case of Archbishop Paul Russell, Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan, each of the insignia carries personal significance as well.

PECTORAL CROSS -- The Pectoral Cross is the large cross worn by a bishop around his neck, usually suspended by a cord or a chain. "The cross I will wear is a family heirloom," Archbishop Russell explained. According to the archbishop, it belonged to a distant family member, the late Msgr. Francis Van Antwerp, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Detroit in the early 1900s, and has been handed down generation to generation.

CROSIER -- The crosier is a hooked staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of the pastoral office. "My crosier is handmade by two brothers in Alpena, Mich.," Archbishop Russell said, noting that built into the crosier are seven pieces of wood from his parish's original church building, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, which recently underwent renovations. It is made from two types of wood -- both hard and soft -- "because a bishop has to show both leadership and compassion," he explained. "A bishop pushes sheep along, defends them from wolves and rescues those who have gone astray."

EPISCOPAL RING -- The episcopal ring, or bishop's ring, is conferred in the rite of consecration, and is commonly regarded as a symbol of the betrothal of the bishop to the Church. The ring worn by Archbishop Russell, a gold ring adorned with a cross and a citrine stone is meant to symbolize the resurrection. It was handmade in Detroit and was given as a gift from St. Andrew-St. Benedict Parish in southwest Detroit, a mostly African-American parish which Archbishop Russell often frequents when he travels to Michigan.