Carved Bishop's Crosier: Symbolic Story of the Holy Bible on a Shepherd's Staff For the Bishop

  • Advertise with us
Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 10-01-2009 02:41 AM 21630 views 4 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch


This project was a commissioned piece. If you would like something similar, please email at:

[email protected]

Photo 1:


Project Story:

This carved Crosier (Shepherd’s Staff) was commissioned by Father Thomas Coover, a Catholic Priest in New Hampshire who belongs to the Ecumenical Catholic Church+USA ( He will be consecrated a bishop at the upcoming Synod meeting of the ECC+USA which will take place in St. Louis, Missouri.

A Note from Bishop-Elect Thomas:
The bishop’s staff, commonly called a Crosier, is associated with the Shepherd’s Crook to symbolize the care of the flock entrusted to the Bishop. It is reminiscent of the rod of Moses that was the symbol of his divine commission as well as the instrument of the miracles he performed. The staff is presented to the Bbishop-elect at his consecration with the admonition that he is to sustain the weak and faltering, confirm the wavering, and guide the faithful along the right path. It is used by the Bishop at all solemn liturgical functions at which he presides.

This particular rendition of the bishop’s staff enbodies the Bishop-elect’s appreciation that his ministry within the ECC+USA is to proclaim the story of salvation that is brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. From the creation of the world, salvation’s story is recognized in images designed by the artist that visually convey the mystery of God’s presence in human history and leading to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The Cedar of Lebanon, symbol of immortality, speaks to the bishop’s Lebanese ancestry, while the quotation from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans was used at his ordination to the priesthood. It remains part of the new bishop’s personal motto.”

Shaft Wood: American Black Walnut
Gold Color: Gold Powder mixed with clear lacquer and hand brushed
Carvings: This project was carved from a 2” x 2” x 72” chunk of clear, straight grained walnut.

Mark DeCou


The top of the Staff is a gold painted Rustic Cross, symbolic of the Tree that Christ was Crucified on.

The tree carved on the front is a Cedar of Lebanon, selected by Father Thomas, to represent his family’s Lebanese heritage.

Photo 1:

Photo 2:


The Text on the back comes from the book of Romans, verse 31. This verse was selected by Father Thomas, and has special meaning for him.

Photo 3:

Photo 4:


The shape of the “Circle” on the top, is symbolic of the Earth, and reminds me of the Great Commission that was given by Jesus to his Disciples inthe Book of Matthew 28:19.

The Gold Band carved and painted on the edge of the disc is to symbolize the “marriage” of the Church, referred to as the Bride of Christ, to it’s Bride Groom, Jesus the Christ.

Photo 5:


This image is my imagined representation of Christ’s Return, which I truly hope is today.

Photo 6:


The Hand grip is covered with Cowhide. The hand grip was placed between the Empty Tomb and the 2nd Coming to represent the Church Age, which we are now living in.

The hand grip represents the work of the Shepherd (Father Thomas) who disciples the followers of Jesus under his care, while carrying the Staff in his ministry, while he works to prepare the Bride of Christ (Church), for the return of the Bride Groom (Christ).

Although the dead Body of Jesus was laid in a new tomb, with a stone rolled in front, sealed, and guarded by the Romans, on the third day, His disciples found the stone rolled back, the tomb empty, and an Angel explained that Jesus had been raised from the Dead.

At the core of Christianity is the doctrine that affirms that God the Father raised Jesus the Christ from the dead on the third day. Later, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that without the resurrection, Christian preaching and belief are meaningless. In the Book of Romans 1:4 it is written that the resurrection proves God’s intention for Jesus, and that His believers are assured that Jesus is the Christ.

Photo 7:


I handforged a steel Nail for Christ’s Hand. Carving this hand, making the nail, and Driving it in with a Hammer have been a very important Spiritual mediation process for me.

The act of Crucifixion involved attaching the punished with large nails through the wrists or hands, to a crossbeam attached to a vertical stake. The apostle Paul summed up the importance of the crucifixion in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24: “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”. Out of the horrible act of the crucifixion, God the Father accomplished the redemption of sinners in a Fallen World.

Photo 8:

Photo 9:


Jesus giving the Church the tradition of the Lord’s Supper through Wine and Bread, to be His Blood and Body to be sacrificed at His crucifixion freeing Believers of their sins. I carved the Hands of Jesus as he held up the cup and bread to His disciples in the Upper Room. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember Christ, receive strength from Him, and to rededicate to His work. This Act is to be performed by his Church until He returns.

The start of the tradition of taking the Lord’s Supper took place the night before Jesus was Crucified, occuring at a traditional Jewish meal commonly known as the Passover Meal, which was first instituted by God in the days of Moses before the Israelites were freed from bondage in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-14). The Israelites were to paint the door posts and headers with blood, and then would be passed over by the Angel of Death. The historical record being passed through the generations by the sharing of the Passover Meal, teaching each generation about what happened, and about God’s care and Character.

Although Jesus was performing a Traditional ceremony during the Jewish Passover Meal, His breaking and sharing of the bread, with the words, “This is My body” and “This is My blood” while sharing the cup of wine, was a completely new concept for the Disciples.

I broke from the walnut/gold color scheme, and painted the wine inside the cup the color of blood red wine.

Photo 10:


The next carved symbol represents the Birth of the Lamb of God, Jesus, in a Manger.

A Manger is a feeding-trough in an animal stable designed to hold straw and hay and other food fodder for livestock, mentioned in the Book of Luke 2:7.

I chose to represent the Manger in a wooden trough style, as Jesus was born into the home of a Jewish Woodworking Entrepreneur named Joseph, and so I thought it was fitting that He should be a Babe in a wooden Manger. Historians say that the manger might have been made from clay, rock, or carved stone also.

Photo 11:


The Lamb Sacrifice, according to the Mosaic Law, the Shedding of Blood is required for the forgivness of Sins.

The Lamb was a prelude to the coming Lamb of God, which is how John the Baptist described Jesus in the book of John 1:29,36. John called his cousin Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Also, the Book of Revelation refers to Jesus as a lamb 28 times.

In the Old Testament sacrifical system, God accepted the blood of animals as the means of atonement for sin shown in Leviticus 4.

Also, the book of Isaiah 53:7-12, the Old Testament prophesies that Jesus will the servant who “was led as a lamb to the slaughter… bore the sins of many”


Covenant with God: Ten Commandments given to Moses at Mount Sinai, and the carvings represent the Stone Tablets that the Laws were carved into.

The ten laws given by God are guidelines for our daily living, while being a part of a covenant between God and His people as described in Exodus 34:28.

Jesus actually placed these laws on a higher plane by demanding that the spirit as well as the legal aspects of the law be kept, saying, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” in the book of Matthew 5:17-19. The Scriptures show that obedience to the Commandments was to be the basis of Israel’s existence as the special people of God.

The Commandments represented by the Roman Numerals in my carvings are:

I. “You shall have no other gods before Me”

II. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image”. This one is sort of tricky for a sculptor/carver trying to represent the Story of Scripture in a carved Shepherd’s Staff. This Staff is in no way to be worshiped, but rather to turn people’s attention to the One that is to be worshiped, the Holy God.

III. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”.

IV. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”.

V. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land”.

VI. “You shall not murder”.

VII. “You shall not commit adultery”.

VIII. “You shall not steal”.

IX. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

X. “You shall not covet”.

Photo 12:


After the Fall of Man (the sinning by eating of he Tree of Knowledge) sin entered the World through the seed of Adam.

Genesis chapters 6-8 records that After many generations of people being born and living lives filled with sin, God decided to start over. God then brought a world wide flood to destroy everything. God chose to save just a remnant of His creation, by picking Noah to build an Ark, filling it with his immediate family and their wives, and the animals that God sent to him. This carved symbol represents the destruction of the world by the Flood, but the saving of a remnant by the Ark.

Photo 13:

Photo 14:


The next carved symbol is the Hand of Eve, picking the Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, being tempted by the serpent to sin against God, as recorded in Genesis Chapter 3, starting with verse 1.

Photo 15:


The first carved symbol on the bottom, is the story of the creation of the Universe from the book of Genesis. What I depicted is the Hand of God creating the sun, the planets, the stars, moon, and the crowning achievement of Earth, which He created for all living things. All of this Work was described in Genesis 1:1.

Photo 16:


The bottom tip of the Staff has a polished brass, lathe turned Ferrule with replaceable rubber tip

Photo 17:


Since this Shepherd’s Staff will be taken by Airplane, I designed it to be broken into four segments, allowing safe storage in a carry on case.

Photo 18:


Research and Source Footnote:
I used the Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Copyright© 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers for my research.


More Walking Sticks & Canes:
If you go to my Mark DeCou Website you won’t find very many canes pictured there. I do realize that I need to invest in improving my website, but until that is accomplished, here are few more of my canes posted at lumberjocks, thanks for your patience.

Handmade Finished Canes For Sale, Ready to Ship Now: Online Shop Inventory: Click Here to Visit my Cane Inventory Page


Folk Art & Pop-Art Carved Canes
  1. Bishop’s Carved Walnut Crosier
  2. Nascar’s Jimmie Johnson Themed Walking Cane
  3. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Stick
  4. Folk-Art Smiling Wood Spirit Face Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle
  5. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  6. Folk-Art Pirate Carved Face Cane w/ Deer Antler Handle
  7. Cartoon Character Taz, Folk Art One-of-a-kind Art Cane
  8. Sculpted Wood Spirit Face Cane
  9. Folk-Art Wood Spirit Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle & Scrimshaw
  10. Folk Art Mountain Man Face Cane
  11. Shamrock Wood Spirit Irish-Theme Face Cane
  12. Walnut Wood Spirit Face Cane with Antler & Turquoise
  13. Collection of Face Carved Canes
  14. Moses-Inspired Face Carved Cane w/ Antler & Turquoise
  15. Shepherd's Stick, Carved Border Collie Welsh-Style Dog Show Trial Stick
  16. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Artwork
  17. Amazing Grace Music Notes Carved Cane
  18. A Lady’s Elegant Red Long-Stem Rose Carved Cane
  19. Prairie Fire Hand-Carved Hiking Thumb Sticks
  20. A Folk-Art Carved Albatross Head & Snake Walnut Cane
  21. Carved Folk-Art Walking Cane; 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' Story Stick with Scrimshaw Artwork-
Native American Indian Theme Folk-Art Canes
  1. Apache Chief Geronimo Folk-Art Face Cane
  2. Folk Art Native American Face Cane Set
  3. Apache Chief Cochise Folk-Art Face Cane
  4. Folk Art Carved Cane of Shoshone Chief
  5. Indian Guides Chief Big-Red-Cloud Hiking Stick
  6. Apache Chief Cochise #2 Folk-Art Face Cane
Scrimshaw Artwork Canes
  1. Scrimshaw Art Trophy Buck Deer Head
  2. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Praying Mantis Insect
  3. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Floppy Eared Bunny Face & Walnut Barley Twist
  4. Big & Tall Barley Twisted Oak with Scrimshawn Handle
  5. Walnut & Curly Maple Cane with Scrimshaw
  6. Scrimshaw Art Walnut Cane
  7. Fancy Barley Twist with Scrimshaw Cane
  8. Lady's Dress Cane, Red Oak, Walnut, Black Lacquer, & Scrimshaw Artwork of a Purple Cone Flower
Natural Sapling/Limb Canes/Sticks
  1. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  2. Nanny McPhee Movie-Inspired Crooked Walking Stick
  3. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Cane
  4. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  5. Shepherd's Crook Hiking Stick
  6. Black Locust Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  7. Red BirchTree Sapling Hiking Stick
Fancy Barley-Twist Style Dress Canes
  1. Fancy Barley Twisted Ebonized Oak & Elk Antler Cane, Serial No. 2009-05
  2. Big & Tall Walnut & Maple Barley Twist Custom Cane
  3. Big & Tall Red Oak and Antler with Scrimshaw Monogram
  4. White Oak Barley Twist Cane
  5. Osage Orange Barley Twist Cane
  6. Walnut & Figured Maple Barley Twist cane
  7. Black Walnut and Spalted Sycamore Barley Twist
  8. Red Oak Barley Twist with Black Lacquer
  9. Red Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Handle
  10. Dress Cane, Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Ring
  11. Bryan's Cane, The Start of my Cane Journey
Fancy Dress Style Canes
  1. Pink Ivory and Elk Antler Dress Walking Stick
  2. Coiled Ribbon Twisted Spalted White Oak with Walnut Handle
  3. Polished Black Steer Horn Upright Walking Stick
  4. Mexican Bocote Wood, Elk Antler Handle with Hand-Wrought Fine Silver End Caps
  5. Fancy Walking Cane, Camphor Burl, Maple, Bubinga, Whitetail Deer Antler, Inlays & Silver End Caps
  6. Custom Dress-Up Walking Cane, Walnut shaft with a Camphor Burl Handle
  7. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  8. White Birch & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  9. Walnut Bamboo-Style Cane with Chrome Ball Top
  10. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Dress Cane
  11. Bird's Eye Maple Cane
  12. Spalted Sycamore Walking Cane
  13. Walnut Tall Knob Top Opera Cane
  14. Zebrawood & Walnut Knob Top Opera Cane
  15. Dress Cane Set, with several Material Options Shown

What is Scrimshaw Artwork?:
A Scrimshaw Art Journey: What it is & How to Do it; Five Simple Steps to Success
Click here to go to My Website page with Walking Canes

I usually have a few canes in stock at:
  1. Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works in Wichita, Kansas
  2. Hutchinson Art Center in Hutchinson, Kansas
  3. Prairie Past Times Antiques & Crafts in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

You can contact these gallery stores directly and see what they still have in stock. They will ship to you if you buy something. If you prefer, you can also email me, as I keep fairly current on what is “unsold.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Background: My Cane Making Story:

I enjoy sculpting walking canes. Some folks call them Folk-Art Canes, while others call them Artisan Canes, some call them Carved Canes, while others call them Walking Sticks. There is quite a bit of argument about whether something should be called Sculpture or Carving. They could be considered Functional-Art, which is the type of work that I am usually drawn to. No matter what these canes are called, they seem to bring joy to the owners, and I have been asked to make quite a few of them in the past 5-6 years.

I started making canes on the request of a nice married couple I met on a church-building short-term mission trip to Mexico City in the early 1990’s. Several years after our trip, their son-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer, and so they wanted to get him a specially made cane that he would enjoy using. They had heard from others that I had quit my corporate office job and started doing woodworking full-time. So, they contacted me to make his cane.

Click for details

Sadly, I also built him a casket, another first for me, about a year later

Click for details

Since the time I did that first Cane for Bryan, I have enjoyed the work on the canes that I have been able to make, but more importantly, the people that I have been able to meet and help along the journey. I do make a bunch of unique items and furniture, but without a doubt, I receive more correspondence and thank-you cards from cane customers than any of the other items I make, combined. So, they are fun for me to build, and I look forward to each new person and situation.

To keep a handle on all of the memories, I engrave a small serial number on each brass cane tip, and then I keep a detailed database log of each cane, customer, and situation. The list always brings me warm memories each time I scan it and remember the folks that have supported my work over the years, and vice versa.


Still Want to See more of my work?

Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Art-Furniture I've Built
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools


(This text, all photos, project design, are protected by copyright 2007-2009, M.A.DeCou, all rights reserved and protected, ask permission first! Weblinks to this page are permitted)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

17 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5410 days

#1 posted 10-01-2009 02:51 AM

Mark: That is some fantastic carving. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14189 posts in 4992 days

#2 posted 10-01-2009 02:54 AM

very creative work … sure your clientele is pleased

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5324 days

#3 posted 10-01-2009 03:16 AM

One of your best!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4313 days

#4 posted 10-01-2009 03:48 AM

hey mark, what a wonderful job…..i wonder how many hours you have in that one….....i hope other commisions result from this…..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4895 days

#5 posted 10-01-2009 04:08 AM

Mark you’ve outdone your self again this is beautiful.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View littlecope's profile


3117 posts in 4511 days

#6 posted 10-01-2009 04:22 AM

Absolutely Beautiful, Mark. A Holy Treasure.
I’m curious, will this now be Blessed by a Bishop, or perhaps by the Holy Father?
In any event, you sir, are blessed with enormous talent…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 4175 days

#7 posted 10-01-2009 04:49 AM

That is very classy!
What denomination is it for? Bet there is a great story that goes with it, it is full of symbolism! I get very weary of some of the modernistic gaunt spare stuff that is in many churches these days. Give me the rich, well crafted pieces anyday! After all that’s why they call it a Celebration! I really like the fact that if breaks down too. Easy to transport. Did you make a wonderful box for it too? I’m sure that it will be a joy for years to come.

View Napaman's profile


5534 posts in 5086 days

#8 posted 10-01-2009 05:03 AM

this is incredible….

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4599 days

#9 posted 10-01-2009 06:06 AM

Very nice work Mark. Good to see your work

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4586 days

#10 posted 10-01-2009 06:38 AM

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4279 days

#11 posted 10-01-2009 06:55 AM

Awesome, exquisite….I can’t think of enough adjuectives to apply here….you are extremely talented….that piece should be shown in a museum or such…it is way to good to be used….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1109 posts in 4816 days

#12 posted 10-01-2009 02:30 PM

Divinely inspired. Truly a gift form on high! It says, “Time, Treasure and Talent” all over. Thanks.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5256 days

#13 posted 10-01-2009 07:31 PM

God has truly blessed you with talent Mark. Makes me proud to be Roman Catholic. A Bishop no less. Did the local priest have anything to do with getting you the gig? Especially after the new church you gave him. By the way, you’re definately invited to the Michigan Lumberjock picnic too. See you on the 25th, LOL. m

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 4738 days

#14 posted 10-02-2009 10:41 PM

Just beautiful Mark.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4700 days

#15 posted 10-02-2009 10:48 PM

Mark I’m not that religous but that is simply stunning the detail is out of this world i think any priest would be very happy to have such a wonderfull piece of art thank you for showing us that in time maybe we can espirer to that sort of craftmanship

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics