Shared responsibility symbolized in the “pallium” to be received in June 29 Vatican ceremony
On June 29, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a single Canadian Archbishop will take part in an ancient liturgical ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This Saturday, together with newly appointed Archbishops from across the globe, all named over the past year, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas will be in Rome to receive a sacred symbol of his new ministry.
Just prior to the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, one of the most significant liturgical celebrations of the year, the archbishops will come forward to receive the “pallium” (Latin plural is “pallia”) from the Bishop of Rome: the Holy Father. This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the Bishop takes upon his shoulders.
The pallium is a circle of wool that hangs around the neck and shoulders with two long pieces draping one over the chest and the other along the back. It is decorated with six black crosses and weighed with pieces of lead.
The wool for the pallium comes from two lambs offered every year to the Pope on January 21, Feast of St. Agnes. They are first taken to the Church of St. Agnes to be blessed. The lambs arrive wearing floral crowns, one white and one red. These represent the purity of Agnes, which the archbishops should emulate, and the martyrdom of Agnes, which the archbishops should be prepared to follow.
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and the pallia are made. On the eve of the feast of the great apostles Peter and Paul, (June 28) the pallia are stored overnight in the silver casket above Peter’s tomb in the Vatican crypt. The following day (June 29) the pallia are given to the newly appointed metropolitan bishops, the only occasion in which more than one bishop can be seen wearing the pallium at the same time. Symbolically, the Pope is sharing his mission to “Feed my sheep and lambs” with the archbishops. The wool over the shoulders evokes the lamb over the shoulders of the Good Shepherd. It also reminds the archbishops of the burdens of their office. By investing each new Archbishop with the pallium, the Holy Father confers some of his own weight and responsibilities on him.
At inauguration of Petrine Ministry of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as Bishop of Rome on April 24, 2005, the Holy Father spoke the following, moving words about the pallium he had received during that ceremony:
The symbolism of the Pallium is even more concrete: the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life.
[...] Hence the Pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd’s mission. [...] The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.
Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Programming note: Broadcast times of Pallium Mass on S+L:
3:30am ET / 12:30am PT (English) LIVE
9:00am ET / 6:00am PT (English)
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT (English)
3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT (French)
Sunday: 4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT (Italian)
Credit: Catholic News Service