A processional cross is simply a crucifix which is carried at the head of a procession, and which, that it may be more easily seen, is usually mounted upon a long staff or handle.
an archaeological point of view this subject has already been briefly
dealt with under Cross. It will suffice to note here that
theprocessional cross does not essentially differ from what may be
called the cross of jurisdiction which is borne before the pope, his legates, and metropolitans or archbishops. The pope is entitled to have the cross borne before him wherever he may be; a legate's cross is used only in the territory for which he has been appointed, and that of an archbishop within the limits of his province. All these crosses, including that of the pope, have in practice only one bar. The double-barred cross is a sort of heraldic fiction which is unknown in the ceremonial of the Church. It is supposed that every parish
possesses a cross of its own and that behind this, as a sort of
standard, the parishioners are marshalled when they have to take part
in some general procession.
It is usual also for cathedral chapters and similar collegiate bodies to possess a processional cross which precedes them in their corporate capacity; and the same is true of religious, for whom usage prescribes that in case of the monastic orders the staff of the cross should be of silver or metal, but for the mendicant orders, of wood. In the case of these crosses of religious orders, confraternities, etc. it is usual in Italy to attach streamers to a sort of penthouse over the crucifix, or to the knob underneath it. When these crosses are carried in procession the figure of Christ faces the direction in which the procession is moving, but in the case of the papal, legatine, and archiepiscopal crosses the figure of our Saviour is always turned towards the prelate to whom it belongs. In England, during the Middle Ages, a special processional cross was used during Lent. It was of wood, painted
red and had no figure of Christ upon it. It seems probable that this is
identical with the "vexillum cinericium" of which we read in the Sarum Processional.
Written by Herbert Thurston. Transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook.
Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert
Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D.,
Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
DE MONTAULT, Traite pratique de la Construction etc. des Eglises, I
(Paris, 1878), 382-499; ROCK, The Church of Our Fathers (2nd ed.,
London, 1904), II, 337 sq., IV, 262 sq.; WORDSWORTH, Salisbury
Ceremonies and Processions (Cambridge, 1901).