This JP II gold pectoral cross in the conventional design depicts scenes of the Passion of Christ. The pectoral cross (crux pectoralis) is worn only by the Pope, cardinals, archbishops and bishops. The word pectoral derives from the Latin pectus, meaning “breast.” This cross is attached to a chain (or cord) and is worn on the chest, near the heart. In earlier times, pectoral crosses contained a relic of the True Cross or of a saint, although today many do not contain relics. In 1889, the Holy See recommended that the pectoral cross of a deceased bishop which contained a relic of the True Cross be given to his successor.
When putting on the pectoral cross, the bishop traditionally says the Munire me digneris prayer, “Munire digneris me, Domine Jesu Christe, ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium, signo sanctissimae Crucis tuae: ac concedere digneris mihi indigno servo tuo, ut sicut hanc Crucem, Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis refertam, ante pectus meum teneo, sic semper mente retineam at memoriam passionis, et sanctorum victorias Martyrum” (“Deign Thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, to guard me from all the snares of every enemy, by the sign of Thy most holy Cross: and deign Thou to grant to me, Thy unworthy servant, that as I hold before my breast this Cross with the relics of Thy Saints within it, so may I ever keep in mind the memory of the Passion, and the holy victorious Martyrs”). In praying the Munire me digneris, the bishop petitions God for protection against his enemies, and begs to bear in mind continually the Passion of Jesus, and the triumphs of the confessors of the Faith.
Donated by St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
Cat: Episcopal/Pectoral Cross