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Did Pope Francis Carry a Wiccan Stang to Open the Synod of Bishops?

Pope Francis (C) arrives for the Holy Mass for the opening of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Saint Peters Square .

On October 3, Pope Francis opened the Synod of Bishops on the topic of "youth, faith and vocational discernment" in Saint Peters Square in Vatican City, and instead of holding a traditional papal ferula he was clutching what looked a lot like a Wiccan "stang." Conservative Catholics were appalled and viewed the pope's choice of staff as evidence that something diabolical is going on at the Vatican. Others thought it was no big deal.

A ferula is a pastoral staff with a cross at the top. As there is no set style, it has come in various forms over the years.

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A stang, like the one Pope Francis seemed to be holding at the synod, is a forked staff used by witches to perform rituals and spells.

"In its simplest form, a forked staff, Witches use the Stang in various ways including representing the Horned One, aiding in spirit flight, and directing energy," a pagan blogger wrote at Patheos.

Witches claim that they can draw spirits up from the underworld through their stangs.

Pope Francis seemed to be carrying a forked staff -- which is technically a stang. But is that what it really was?

It was presented to Pope Francis by two young women at an August 11 prayer vigil with youth in Rome's Circus Maximus.

(Sipa via AP Images)


A young woman of 30 years, identified as Elena, told the Pontiff that during the pilgrimage “we have experienced that each path needs his cane and on this special occasion we give him a staff sculpted from a log.”

“In the torn heart of Jesus on the cross is guarded a small seed, that seed that dies to bear fruit and our hope. And it reveals the secret to make life flourish, love,” said the young woman explaining the meaning of the staff. She also told Pope Francis that “it would be beautiful for this staff to accompany him during the Youth Synod. All of us gathered here could feel that we are at their side and connect our heart and our memory to this extraordinary meeting. ”

“Holy Father, we have come here to tell you that we love you very much and we want to walk forward together,” she added.