Pallium points

There has been much buzz about the pallium this year.  Pope Benedict has shifted the the papal pallium away from the very ancient, drapy stole-like "archeological" form back (and forward) to one of the historical forms which can be seen as a "bridge" along the organic development into its modern form.

Here is the form Benedict started to use at the beginning of his pontificate.

Back in April 2005 I have a clear memory of thinking that this odd shift of the pallium was engineered by the former MC Archbp. Piero Marini and planned long before the death of John Paul II.   Marini also engineered all sorts of changes in the rites for the funeral and burial of the late Pope.  I was struck by the fact that the stole-like "archeological" pallium, which is still like the stole of deacons in the Eastern Churches, was a little too short, almost as if the maker had been certain that someone else was going to be elected… but I digress.  

Anyway, I am pleased with the shift this this pallium, which symbolically shows continuity between the "archeological" form and the "modern form" still imposed on Archbishops.

The pallium is a sign of the jurisdiction Metropolitan Archbishops have in their provinces as well as a sign of their closer bond with the Successor of Peter.  This is one of the reasons why before the pallia are conferred, they rest in a niche at Peter’s tomb.

Before they receive the pallium the Archbishops take an oath:

    Archiepiscopus [PLACE and NAME]
    beato Petro apostolo,
    Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae,
    ac tibi, Summo Pontifici,
    tuisque legitimis Successoribus
    semper fidelis ero et oboediens.
    Ita me Deus omnipotens adiuvet.

    Archbishop of the _ diocese (these are adjectives)
    will always be faithful and obedient to
    St. Peter the apostle,
    the Holy Roman Church,
    and to you, the Supreme Pontiff
    and to your legitimate Successors.
    So help me God Almighty.

In recent decades this oath is made also in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople or his delegate.

The Holy Father blessed the pallia today with these words (my close but not too literal translation):

    O God, eternal Pastor of souls, who committed to blessed Peter the Apostle those who are called "the flock" by Jesus Christ Your Son, that  they should be governed by him after the model of the Good Shepherd (boni Pastoris typo) , through our ministry pour forth the grace of Your blessing upon these Pallia, which as symbols You desired to be concrete signs (documenta) of pastoral care.

    Receive the our humble prayers and grant through the intercession and merits of the Apostles, that whoever will bear them, You generously making it so, may understand himself to be the Shepherd of Your flock, and will show forth in his work that which is signified by the name.

    Let him take up the evangelical yoke lain upon his neck, and let it be for him so light and sweet, that in running by example swiftly along the way of your commands, he may merit to be admitted into the everlasting pasture.

When the Pope places the pallium on the neck of the archbishop kneeling before him, he says:

    For the glory of Almighty God and the praise of the blessed Virgin Mary and of saints Peter and Paul, for the decorum of the Sees committed to you, unto a sign of the authority of a metropolitan, we bestow upon you the Pallium taken from the Confession of saint Peter, so that you may use it within the confines of your ecclesiastical provinces.

    May this Pallium be for your a symbol of unity and a token (tessera) of communion with the Apostolic See; may it be a bond of charity (vinculum caritatis) and a spur of fortitude, so that in the day of the Coming and the revelation of the great God and prince of shepherds Jesus Christ, you may together with the the flocks entrusted to you obtain (potiamini) the stole of immortality and glory.

There are some nice things here.  First, the image of a tessera is lovely.  A tessera is literally a small block or cube.  It is used to describe the little cubes that make up a mosaic.  It is still the Italian word for an officially issued pass or a ticket or i.d. card.  In this case it makes me think of how each of these archbishops, so different in themselves and in very different places through the world, are contributing in their individual way to the "big picture".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Tobias says:

    I find the new pallium curious. The pallium is something that distinguishes metropolitan archbishops from other ordinaries. As the archbishop and metropolitan of the Roman Province, the Pope is not superior to other metropolitans. It is only because the Roman See is also the successor See of Peter that the Pope is special. (Right?) I think that it would make more sense for his pallium to be the same as that of all the other metropolitans of the Latin Church, as has been the tradition. One reason for a special papal pallium is, I assume, the fact that investiture with the pallium is now the official ceremony for the inauguration of a new Pope. Previously, the tiara was the distinct symbol of the papacy and coronation was the unique ceremony for papal inauguration. Now the Pope’s pallium must bear the weight of symbolizing unique papal authority, so now it is different from that of other metropolitans, something that is novel in ecclesiastical usage. Obviously all metropolitans receive a pallium, but now the design of theirs differs from that of the Pope, and the Pope uses the pallium on his coat-of-arms as though that vestment were distinctive of the papacy, which it never has been before. So while the form of the papal pallium certainly is better than the archaic omophorion style he has been shouldering, the new design distinctive of the papacy is an innovation; the pallium now represents something it previously did not — the Pope’s unique status.

    Does my analysis make sense?

    “In recent decades this oath is made also in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople or his delegate.”

    I know that for the sake of courtesy the Patriarch of Constantinople is addressed
    as “Ecumenical.” But I thought that the Popes have always refused to grant
    this title as it implies the Patriarch of Constantinople is patriarch of the
    entire world (the Roman/Byzantine Empire was idealistically thought to be
    coterminous with the civilized world). St. Gregory the Great adopted “Servus
    Servorum Dei” as a title in order to protest the usurpation of the title
    “ecumenical” by the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was a very long time before
    Rome would ratify even the canon of an ecumenical council (I forget which
    one) that ranked Constantinople second to Rome among the five patriarchates.
    I bring this up because, due to ecumenism, courtesy, and common parlance, we
    usually call the Patriarch of Constantinople by the titles he possesses
    in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but Catholics have traditionally objected to
    this title. May the dialogue between Bartholomew and His Holiness prosper, may
    we return to union.

  2. Tobias says:

    Well, Gregor over at the New Liturgical Movement has corrected me. The pallium
    belongs by right only to the Pope, by concession to other metropolitans. I
    still wonder if the distinction in coloration and style between the metropolitan
    pallia and the new papal one is an attempt to assert papal
    status in vestments now that the tiara has been retired, along with the
    fanon, falda, etc.

  3. Mitchell says:

    Can we still be hopeful for the return of the Tiara as well..Does anyone know what the Pope thinks about the Tiara?? Has he ever referenced it in any of his many previous writings or speeches? Perhaps if we knew some of the things he has said in the past we could use it as a guage to form our opinions of what still may come…

  4. Emilio III says:

    I must admit I prefer the “archeological” form myself. The traditional form looks ridiculous to me. Looking at the first two illustrations in the drawing above, there is a clear discontinuity in design from one to the other.

    I’m sure the traditional pallium is more practical, but its shape just seems wrong.

    On a lighter note, somebody mentioned that the painting of Innocent III wearing my preferred pallium is a deliberate archaism. So possibly the makers of his “action figure” were more historically accurate in choosing a transitional form. (A blog entry containing both the relevant painting and action figure may be seen here.)

  5. Mark M says:

    Completely off-topic, Father, but for a moment I thought you were speaking about tesseracts — four-dimensional hypercubes!

  6. Mark: tesseracts—four-dimensional hypercubes

    There’s a word I haven’t seen for a while!

  7. Atlanta says:

    Thank you again for a lovely post. I am promoting your blog on my Facebook profile so hopefully I will be able to attract more Orthodox readers.

  8. CK says:

    This is off topic too and maybe you’ve discussed it before, but when may a stole be worn over the chasuble? [Never, if memory serves. – Fr. Z] Today our celebrant had a bit of a funky colored one over the red chasuble and even it (chasuble) had a sort of shawl collar type effect to it rather than just the plain hole opening.

  9. Dale says:

    It is a great day here in the Archdiocese of Halifax as Archbishop Anthony Mancini received his pallium.

    O God, eternal shepherd,
    You watch over and govern your flock
    with vigilance.
    We praise you for the gracious
    gift of the Church,
    Sign of your continuing care for us.
    Thank you for sending
    our new chief shephard,
    Your servant Anthony Mancini.
    May he please you by his holiness
    and guide us with unfailing care.
    Grant that we may grow together
    into the fullness of life you have promised
    to all who proclaim your Holy Gospel
    and serve in your Holy Name.
    We make our prayer to you through
    Christ our Lord,
    in the Communion of the Holy Spirit,
    God, forever and ever.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    I actually liked that Marini pallium. I thought “traditionalists” would like it since it was… well… old!

    I understand the importance of showing continuity, i.e. the new (old) pastoral staff, and I do love it, but many Catholics, such as myself, who grew up only knowing the late John Paul the Great, kind of miss the staff he used. It brought me great joy and comfort when I first saw Pope Benedict XVI using it. That showed continuity to me. I think the issue of continuity works both ways… “ancient” and “recent”.

    Fr. Z said: “Marini also engineered all sorts of changes in the rites for the funeral and burial of the late Pope.”

    Perhaps next April 2 you could highlight these changes for us? :-) I really liked the use of the Litany of the Saints in the Papal Funeral Rites, and wouldn’t mind having something like that at my own funeral!

  11. Margaret says:

    Isn’t that the new Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis in the third picture here? And speaking of, I heard he’s really great, so I hope Fr. Robert Altier can come back on the radio and everything. God bless!

  12. prof. basto says:


    The pallium is NOT a symbol of Metropolitan Archbishops strictly speaking. It is a symbol of the office of Pope.

    It is granted to Metropolitan Archbishops because, as Metropolitans, they partake in an authority delegated from the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Pope. In the Church, there is the universal Church and particular Churches. Every authority above the particular Church (Metropolitans, Patriarchs in the Eastern Catholic Churches, Conferences of Bishops, etc), exercise authority as a delegation of part of the supreme ecclesiastical authority. So, as a sign of that participation in the Papal Authority, of that bond with Peter, Archbishops are also given the Pallium.

    But the pallium is not the symbol of an Archbishop; it is the symbol of the Pope. As a sign of that, in the pre-Vatican II age, use of the Pallium by Metropolitan Archbishops was limited to a few feasts per year, prescribed by the Roman Pontifical .

    Now that Archbishops wear the Pallium all the time, people started thinking of it as a symbol of Archbishops, forgetting that it is primarily the symbol of the Pope. So, it became necessary for the Pope to have a different pallium compared to Archbishops.

    Also, the fact that the tiara/fanon were abandoned left the Pope without a symbol of authority that no one else wears; in parallel, the fact that Coronations are not taking place led to emphasys on the imposition of the pallium as symbol of the papal inauguration. So, it is a good thing that the decision was made to adapt the papal pallium, so that it becomes a uniquely papal symbol, supressing a lack of an specifically papal symbol. Of course, if tiara and fanon were to be restored, it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all…

    Also, while Metropolitans share in a very small part of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, the pope posesses the absolute fulness of that Authority, and so it is fitting that there be a distinction in the use of the pallium between pope and archbishops. In the past, that distinction was made by means of the limitation of days in which Archbishops could wear the pallium; now it is made by means of the different shape of the pallia.

  13. Tobias says:

    Prof. Basto: thank you for that explanation. As you will see in my second
    note, someone else pointed that out to me earlier.

  14. Tobias says:

    Also, Prof. Basto, what is the source of your claim that patriarchs and all
    other ecclesiastical ranks above that of ordinary are merely extensions of
    papal power? I don’t think that, according to current ecclesiological
    models at least, we would look upon the patriarch of Antioch as a delegate
    of the Pope. On the other hand, the old explanation of the first three
    patriarchates — Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria — was that St. Peter founded
    the firs two and his disciple, St. Mark the Evangelist, founded the third. So
    the patriarchal sees were all Petrine in some sense.

  15. xpihs says:

    It is also interesting that the fanon’s purpose was to protect the chasuble from the pins of the papal pallium. It would only make sense that the fanon is a papal vestment if the pallium was a papal vestment.

    Interestingly, the mitre was once like the pallium, a vestural right (A Roman Ornament) granted by the Pope to certain bishops. Only in the 12th century does it become the common vesture of all western bishops, yet it continued to be granted as a vestural right to certain non bishops, like abbots, Cardinals and Apostolic Protonotaries.

  16. Louis E. says:

    So where does the camelaucum (predecessor of the triregno which it had been suggested might be revived as it lacks the triregno’s temporal connotations) come in?Uniquely papal or generally episcopal?

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