The crucifer is responsible for carrying the cross in the entering and retiring processions, as well as in the gospel and Offertory processions. When there is no verger present, the crucifer sets the pace for processions.
Carrying the Cross
The cross should be held high, in a comfortable position that places the cross itself above the head of the bearer to be seen by all. When held at the correct height, the base of the staff should be positioned around the level of the knees, but not higher.
The left hand should grasp the staff with knuckles facing outward (away from you), positioned level to the base of the sternum. The right hand should grasp the staff in a reverse hold, with the thumb pointing downward and the knuckles facing inward (toward you), positioned between the chin and the nose. The cross should be held away from the body, far enough in front of you so your knees, when moving, do not knock against the staff.
The cross should be held straight up and down, perpendicular to the plane of the floor - NEVER leaning forward or backward.
Pacing for walking with the cross should be stately, setting the stride for the acolytes to either side, and staying at least 2 pews behind the verger (if present).
The Processional Crosses
St. Peter’s has two processional crosses:
Primary Processional Cross: This is the large, solid brass cross that is generally stored in the mount on the epistle side of the quire. This is the standard cross which leads all processions, regardless of the service.
Gospel Processional Cross: This is the large brass cross featuring an angel and the symbols of each of the primary gospelers. This cross is used for the gospel procession. It may also be used to lead the bishop in procession.
Responsibilities and Conduct
The crucifer is expected to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to his or her assigned service. Repeated tardiness will result in probationary status and possible dismissal from the Guild.
Upon arriving, the crucifer should vest in cassock (and rope cincture, where appropriate) and surplice.
Checking the Processional Crosses
It is the responsibility of the crucifer to check both processional crosses to ensure they are clean and in good repair. When necessary, ask a member of the Altar Guild for a cleaning cloth to dust the crosses. If a cross is excessively tarnished, please notify the Acolyte Warden, who will make arrangements to have the cross polished.
The crucifer leads the procession behind the verger (if there is one present), flanked by the acolytes carrying candles. Upon reaching the sanctuary, the crucifer and acolytes pause to acknowledge the altar with a slight bow of the head, and then the crucifer moves to place the processional cross in its holder. Once the cross is secured, the crucifer should proceed to the foot of the sanctuary, reverence the altar, and then proceed to his or her place on the bench to the right of the cathedra. NOTE: Whether sitting or standing, it is not appropriate to lean on or store hymnals or leaflets in or on the cathedra.
Liturgy of the Word
The crucifer remains standing for the opening salutation, Collect for Purity, Summary of the Law, Kyrie (when used) and Gloria, observing reverences as outlined above at the appropriate time. The crucifer sits at the Old Testament and New Testament readings.
At the cue from the minister of ceremonies during the sequence hymn, the crucifer moves to retrieve gospel cross (the one on the gospel side of the quire) and meet the acolytes at the foot of the sanctuary, outside of the altar rail, for the gospel procession. When returning from the gospel procession, replace the gospel cross in its holder and resume position to the right of the cathedra. For greater detail on the gospel procession, see “Gospel Procession” in the “Processions” section of this customary.
Following the cues of the minister of ceremonies, stand for the Nicene Creed and Intercessions, and kneel for the Confession of Sin.
During the Peace, the crucifer retrieves the processional cross, and leads the torchbearers out of the sanctuary past the sacristy in an orderly, decorous manner, ultimately arriving at the narthex for the Offertory procession.
Canon of the Mass
Upon reaching the altar rail from the Offertory procession, the crucifer should return the processional cross to its resting place and then take up position standing at the foot of the altar on the gospel side, facing the altar. After the Sanctus and Benedictus, and at the cue from the minister of ceremonies, the crucifer should kneel.
The crucifer should stand to receive Communion with the rest of the altar party, and upon receiving Communion should move to the outside of the rail to assist in closing the gates and moving the kneeling cushions into place. While Communion is being administered to the congregation, the crucifer should be seated in the rear row of the gospel side of the choir stalls. When the last communicant has left the altar rail, the crucifer should approach the rail to move the kneeling cushions and help open the rail.
Post-Communion Prayer and Retiring Procession
The crucifer should kneel on the bottom-most step of the altar during the Post-Communion Prayer and Blessing. Immediately after the blessing, the crucifer moves to retrieve the processional cross from the quire, and returns to the altar rail, facing the altar, to await the acolytes. Once in place, all nod to reverence the altar, and turn to lead the retiring procession. Upon reaching the narthex, the crucifer, still holding the cross aloft, turns to face the oncoming procession and remains in place with the acolytes until the dismissal has concluded.