The pope uses several designs of cross, including the standard Latin Cross, fabulous jewelled crosses, and this odd looking crucifix with a bent cross-beam, which seems to be one of his favourites.
This is a relatively recent design, created by the Italian artist Lello Scorzelli for Pope Paul VI in the mid-1960s. The curves have no heraldic or theological meaning, although the agrestic image reminds us of the virtue of humility and that Jesus was crucified on a rough wooden structure (see The Old Rugged Cross). This rustic cross is in stark contrast to the pope's conventional splendor.
Dr Roman points out that some Georgian priests wear this as a pectoral cross. The style is based on the 4th century St. Nino's Cross, much older than the 1966 papal version described above. The original is enshrined in Sioni Cathedral, Tbilisi, Georgia, and is a prized national and miracle-working relic.
St. Nino is credited with bringing Christianity to Georgia, performed many miracles, and consequently is one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The arms of her cross, bent with moisture over time, is made from the wood of grape-vine, tied together with strands of her own hair (some say the hair of the Mother of Jesus).