Two-Headed Snake Cane?

Q. Can you tell me what the two-headed snake cane the Greek Bishop is walking with represents? What does it mean?
-V.T.

A. The item to which you referred is properly called a bishop's Pastoral Staff or Crosier (in Greek, paterissa), and is a symbol of the bishop's authority and jurisdiction. It is actually not topped with a double-headed snake, but rather two snakes intertwined. This symbolism comes from the bronze serpent that God commanded Moses to construct in the Old Testament:

8And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Numbers 21:8-9).

The snakes represent the enemies of the Church, and the Cross symbolizes the authority that Christ has given to the bishop to guard his flock. As such, it is a powerful reminder of his role as the chief guardian of the faith in the local Church.

Submit your own questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Orthodox Awareness

The Message of Patriarch Theodore of Alexandra Upon the Feast of Ramadan

The “Father of Fathers, the Thirteenth Apostle and the Judge of the World (as his pheme states), Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodore sent a message to the Muslims of Egypt upon the feast of Ramadan. It is as follows:

“The most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, the chief month of personal worship and great awareness of the Divine for every faithful Muslim ends today with the festive, joyous season of Eid al-Fitr. Read more...

Missions

Saint John of Kronstadt - Bunnell, Florida

St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church began as a mission parish in the year 2000, in a home chapel in Palm Coast, FL – a small town on Florida’s northeast coast located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. After two years, it became necessary to have services in area community centers, rented for Sundays and other Holy Days. Read more...

Ask A Priest

Is the GOC Insular?

Q. In considering becoming part of the GOC in America, I am getting warnings from various circles that the attitude of GOC people is that of being “walled off,” “arrogant,” “judgmental,” and “in your face” toward those not in the Genuine Orthodox Church, with accusations such as “World Orthodox” priests are “not even Christians” and the like. Could you give me your personal, realistic assessment of this dynamic and possibly refer me to an official statement on how GOC members should and do relate to and communicate with those in “World Orthodoxy”? Read more...