Agnus Dei - a papal and Templar symbol

During his inauguration on March 19, 2013 pope Francis used a papal staff or ferula which shows on the front of the cross in the center the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and at the end of the limbs the four Evangelists. On the back of the cross are in the center Jesus with the monogram PX and at the end of the limbs the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church Augustine and Ambrose, Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

Pope Francis, March 19, 2013 source abc-news templar seal source


In heraldry, a Lamb of God (or paschal lamb, or agnus Dei) is a lamb passant proper, with a halo or charged with a cross gules, and the dexter forelimb reflexed over a cross staff from which a pennon of St. George (Argent a cross gules) is flotant. The seals of the Masters of the Temple in England: of Aimery de St Maur, 1200, Robert of Sandford, 1241, Richard of Hastings, 1160–85, and William de la More, 1304, showed the agnus Dei. To drive home the point his counter-seal had the head of John the Baptist with the inscription 'I am the guarantor of the lamb'.

Pope Benedict XVI holds the same ferula with agnus Dei
in mass at St Peter's on New Year's Day 2011

Some of the seals of the English Templars were a semi-typical Pascal lamb bearing sometimes, not the flag of St George (or the cross), but the Beauseant, the battle banner of the order. The motto accompanying the seal reads TESTIS SUM AGNI, (not Agnus as is correct), meaning "I am a witness to the Lamb". The translation of the Latin word AGNI raises several areas of contention, however a similar word AGNITIO translates to "of the nature of the mind or wisdom". Note the missing of the word Dei.


The stone carving to the left of a paschal lamb, or Agnus Dei, is located in the west wall of the Templar chapel of St Michael's Church, Herefordshire, England. According to Brighton it is a symbol of St John the Baptist and a motif used by both the Medieval Templar and Hospitaller orders. This example carries both a staff and banner sporting Templar crosses. Image ©Simon Brighton.

This website (in German, use Google for translation) elaborates on the ferula or pope staff. It also shows in detail the ferula with crucifix, ordered by pope Paul VI in 1963 often used by popes Paul VI, John Paul II and occasionally pope Benedict XVI.

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