Pope Francis and the Pallia

Did you notice that Pope Francis, for Sts. Peter and Paul, went back to the ordinary modern pallium which all the metropolitan archbishops wear?

So, in the space of about 10 years we have seen the longish, archeologizing pallium first used by Pope Benedict (probably a creation of Piero Marini).

Not my favorite. Benedict left that one, portentously, on the tomb of Pope Celestine V.

And then Benedict went to a transitional historic pallium.

Francis used that until now.

So, we are back where we started.


I, for one, am glad to see it back.  For how long?  Who knows.  He might get rid of it all together before he resigns at 80.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I think I am the only one who liked Benedict XVI’s first papal pallium. I was stunned to learn that it was Archbishop Marini’s idea, as he is not one to brings things out of the papal closet (in this case, in the very back of the papal closet!). I also thought it was nice that the papal pallium be somewhat different from the metropolitan pallia.

  2. Robbie says:

    Oh, you tricky devil, you! Throwing in that last sentence is sure to cause a stir.

    Back to the issue at hand. Anytime a pope returns to a traditional item, I smile. Now, if only he’d put on the fanon!

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Seems someone must be peeved at the sisters who make the pallia to make them rework so many of them.

  4. HighMass says:

    Long Live Pope Francis…..But a Pope Benedict he is not! Again trying to describe the void Pope Benedict has left is very difficult to put into words.

    I wish Pope Francis well, but from what we are hearing about his health I wonder if he will wait til he turns 80???

    Hopefully we will get a Pope the next time around who completes what Pope Benedict Started in the Reform of the Reform…..we pray the liberals decrease and the orthodox Cardinals increase????
    The N.O. is in so much need of revision….

  5. Polycarpio says:

    Catholic News Service has the complete story. Msgr. Guido Marini told CNS that Pope Francis wore this pallium to not differentiate himself from the other metropolitans.”

  6. So it seems, from various actions that Pope Francis has a very Eastern understanding of the Papacy. A father figure, a first amongst equals, yet at the same time head of the Church approach, through his actions this is probably blatantly clear. But to intermix theologies I think will lead to problems (and in some cases already have) down the road. I like this pallium, it should however have red crosses. (I also don’t think the pallium of Pope JPII was horrible, (ferula however, another story))

  7. Gregorius says:

    I did see an Italian article yesterday suggesting the Pope would not abdicate. Though I could only read it through google translate, and from what I read the author may be confusing the pope’s point, which was to address the permanence of the priestly vocation.


  8. Giuseppe says:

    The Pope in his first address on the night of his election referred to himself as the Bishop of Rome. I’m impressed he even wears a pallium, as I think Rome is a diocese and not an archdiocese.

    Joe of St. Therese is right about Pope Francis’s Eastern understanding of being a bishop, and hence of being the Pope.

  9. jmcj says:

    Giuseppe: Rome is a metropolitan see; therefore, the Pope would have cause to wear the pallium (besides being POPE!) One of the titles of the Pope is “Metropolitan of the Roman Province.”

    I like the idea of having a distinctive vestment for the Pope. I thought that the smaller pallium that Pope Benedict wore was dignified and appropriate.

    What worries me is that Pope Francis is wearing the ordinary pallium to not distinguish himself from the other archbishops. But HE IS DIFFERENT from the other metropolitan archbishops!

    This appears to be more style without substance. Pope Francis wants to look like he’s the same as all the others, but has no problem using full papal authority when it suits him. Am I wrong?

  10. Gratias says:

    It is very interesting that the successor of Peter chose the feast of St. Peter and Paul to gesture he is just one more of the archbishop guys. Funny really, because Jesus told Peter in this day’s Matthew reading: “and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosened also in Heaven”. For two millennia we Catholics believed that the Pope was the Vicar of Christ on Earth, P.P. or Patrem Patruum Father of all Fathers. Successor of Peter was a very important post that gave Rome primacy over all Christians. Jesus implied the successor of Peter would inherit the power to judge, bind and loosen, for him. This is what we traditionally believed. This is why P.P. Franciscus new motto – Who am I to judge – caused such joy among the enemies of the Catholic Church and disappointment among us.

    If he is truly a Bishop peer among equals it follows Francis should resign at 80. If P.P. Franciscus decides he is Pope he then might retire at 85 as the sad resignation of dear Pope Emeritus initiated. Priests retire at 70, bishops at 75, Cardinals at 80, and Popes at 85 in this new world of the Spirit of Vatican Council II. Previously, It used to be that bishops, not to mention Popes, died with their boots on. So the new pallium on the feast of St. Peter may announce future portents.

  11. Polycarpio says:

    Gregorius, a single fact contradicts the theory that Francis will retire at 80. He will turn 80 in 2016. Put when he was in Brazil last year, he promised to return to the Shrine of Aparecida in 2017 for the 300th anniversary of the miracle of the shrine.

  12. Matthew Gaul says:

    I liked Papa Benedict’s long pallium, it made him look like he fit right in with the popes in the old mosaics.

    However, Pope Francis’ nods to the Eastern understanding of the papacy are quite exciting. If that trend grows, I predict the results will be either great or terrible, but not in between.

  13. Wiktor says:

    What was wrong with Benedict’s long pallium?
    I liked it.

  14. vetusta ecclesia says:

    At least he is not in that ghastly matching mitre and chasuble set from BA.

    A liturgically-minded friend always mocked Anglican bishops for their matching copes and mitres, pointing out that mitres do not have liturgical colours as copes and chasubles do. Sadly, increasingly, Roman prelates perpetrate this solecism.

  15. robtbrown says:

    Af.irst I agreed with Fr Z that this pope would also retire–but no longer. I can’T see him retired, living in the Vatican. And Cardinals would oppose a Retired pope living in Argentina.

    I think the old Jesuit will want to die with his boots on–work until he drops

  16. Uxixu says:

    I could still see a retirement outside of Rome as the monarchial papacy with triple tiara descends more into the past but I could also see the Holy Father staying on as robtbrown says.

    I actually am rather fond of the “archaeological” pallium and would prefer the Holy Father’s pallium be easily discernible from a metropolitians, but more as a gesture towards our own ancient traditions than anything else as the rest of the papal vestments leave no doubt.

  17. robtbrown says:

    Francis doesn’t seem to me a retirement kind of guy

  18. Pastor Bonus says:

    Surely there is a good reason for the Pope to wear a pallium that is unique and therefor underlines his unique role within the College of Bishops. The Pope isn’t just another bishop (or archbishop for that matter). Pope Benedict demonstrated this by use of the pallium he wore which was simple and noble and highlight his role as presiding over all the Churches not just Metropoitocan of the Roman Province.

  19. Nancy D. says:

    I suppose one can argue, at the end of the Day, in this period of Time in Salvational History, even though Pope Benedict recognized his unique role within the College of Bishops as ordained by The Christ, it is not as if those within the hierarchy at The Vatican have allowed him to act in the capacity of a Pope, wholly and completely. One need only to look at the multitude who present themselves to receive The Holy Eucharist, while denying The Word of God Is The Word of God, simultaneously, to recognize that something is not quite right in the Vatican. There is nothing that would preclude our Pope from stating that those persons who deny Christ’s teaching on The Sanctity of Human Life from the moment of conception, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, must not present themselves to receive The Holy Eucharist, thus there must be some group of persons within the Vatican who have taken control, who obviously do not believe in the Pope’s role of keeping unity in Christ’s Church.

  20. jeffc says:

    I agree with Fr. Z. I like the style of pallium he’s wearing in the first picture. St. Pope John Paul II wore one like that as did Popes John Paul I, Paul VI, St. Pope John XXIII, Pius XII, Pius XI, and many more! The two types of pallia worn by Pope Benedict XVI were a side trip, as it were.

  21. Imrahil says:

    Two points:

    As jeffc rightly says, it was the other style of the Pope Emeritus that was the exception.

    Second, the pallium is only partially a sign of the status of metropolitan (in the sense that the crozier would be of that of bishop, the cross-staff of that of patriarch or the tiara of that of pope). It is first and foremost a (another) sign of Papal authority (and was stressed in this role by Pope Benedict), being granted by the Pope to metropolitans by way of priviledge. (Though the priviledge is general, for metropolitans, and does serve as their distinction in a way, which we see from the fact that it has to be requested anew after transfer to another metropolitan see.)

    Metropolitans have to send a formal request to Rome for being granted the Pallium (at least traditionally accompanied by another pledge of fidelity), and or fully-valid metropolitans until they receive it.

  22. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    With apologies for its being so tangential, here, but the combox on the May post on Pope St. Celestine was closed: I note, for possible interest:


  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In the context of Joe and Giuseppe’s remarks about “Eastern understanding”, does “He might get rid of it all together before he resigns at 80” consciously include soemthing like ‘perhaps to be replaced by an omophorion’?

    In his very interesting 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia “Pallium” article, Joseph Braun not only gives information filling out Imrahil’s comment, but, as to its origins, says, “The correct view may well be that the pallium was introduced as a liturgical badge of the pope, and it does not seem improbable that it was adopted in imitation of its counterpart, the pontifical omophorion, already in vogue in the Eastern Church.”

    Imrahil’s observation that “It is first and foremost a (another) sign of Papal authority” and Braun’s of the (Greek Rite) omphorion that its “use is a privilege not only of archbishops, but of all bishops” together provide an interesting context for a scene in Charles Williams’s 1936 Canterbury Festival Play (follwoing Eliot’s 1935 Murder in the Cathedral), Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury. The scene is concerned with “The Degradation 1555-56” under Queen Mary in which a character called only “The Bishop” says, “The Holy Father, by his sentence, here deputes us to degrade you. Thus – and thus.” Upon which Cranmer says, “Which of you hath a pall to take my pall?” The mysterious symbolic character, Figura Rerum, the Skeleton, replies, “I”.

    Salvatore Luzio’s 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia “Degradation” article does not specifically discuss the degradation of a metropolitan. I have not tried to dig into the life of Cranmer -but, how were, and are, metropolitans degraded? Cranmer received his pallium from the Pope. What is he suggesting? That, with the English Reformation, the pallium has become the equivalent of an omphorion? Or that no simple bishop can be deputed to reperesent the Pope in this?

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My apologies for my typos!

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