Bespoke furniture company N.E.J Stevenson has been commissioned by John McCaffrey of the Galileo Foundation, on behalf of Pope Francis, to design and create a crozier - an intricately carved hooked staff and emblematic Christian symbol - as a gift to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This gift was presented by Pope Francis to Archbishop Welby in an official visit to celebrate vespers at the historic church San Gregorio al Celio in Rome on the 5th October, marking a 50-year old Anglican and Catholic gift giving tradition. 

The tradition began in 1966 when Pope Paul VI met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey and famously gave him the episcopal ring he had worn as Archbishop of Milan. This was a hugely significant gesture as Catholics had never before officially recognised Anglican orders. Fifty years on, this newly created crozier gift, mirrors the significance of Paul VI’s episcopal ring.

The crozier has been carefully designed to divide into three individual pieces which fit neatly inside the finely crafted accompanying box. NEJ Stevenson has created the crozier using polished oak to craft the length and body of the curved staff (traditionally inspired by the shape of a shepherd's crook) and is finished with brass fittings including a ferule inscribed with the meeting venue and the date. The crozier features a detailed carving of a serpent's head and a ram, symbolising Jesus the Risen Lamb, which was carved by QEST scholar, talented carver Amelia Crowley-Roth. Neil Stevenson, founder of NEJ Stevenson is a trustee of QEST, The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, an organisation founded to support and sustain excellence in traditional British craftsmanship. During Neil’s work with QEST, he became acquainted with Amelia’s exceptional work and approached her to collaborate on this special project.

The design of this hugely symbolic crozier was inspired by the historic crozier of sixth century pope St Gregory the Great, which he presented to St Augustine when he sent him to convert the pagan English in 597. This significant crozier was famously present during a challenging meeting between Archbishop Welby and Primates of the Anglican Communion, where its presence is said to have represented a common heritage between those attending, which helped them unite at a crucial moment.  

“We are honoured to have been commissioned to create a gift of such religious significance and to be a part of this important tradition,” says Neil Stevenson, Managing Director of NEJ Stevenson. “We took great care and time in the design stage for this crozier, ensuring it closely resembles the symbolic St Gregory staff. This has been an extremely interesting and unusual project to work on and we do hope the Archbishop of Canterbury enjoys the piece.”

NEJ Stevenson has designed and manufactured religious furniture for many years; this has included lecterns, celebrant's chairs and altars. Ecclesiastical commissions have included the Chapel Royal at St James Palace, the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and the creation of 6 bespoke pieces of furniture for the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon, to be used personally by Pope Benedict XVI on his historic visit to Britain in September 2010.

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Editors Notes

About NEJ Stevenson

NEJ Stevenson Ltd is one of the UK’s most highly regarded bespoke furniture manufacturers, providing design solutions for fine quality, bespoke furniture and fitted interiors.

In addition to being a Royal Warrant holder, Neil Stevenson is Trustee of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and a Brother and Trustee of the Artworkers Guild. NEJ Stevenson is an Industry Partner of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) and Neil was formerly their Industry Director. He chaired the National Training Board for Furniture and sat on the Board of Proskills (the Sector Skills Council for Process and Manufacturing).