Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Servants of the Servant of the Servants of God

Today the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.  These two great Apostles of the Church represent the two missionary efforts to the Jews and the Gentiles. Today is also a reminder of the Primacy of Peter (see Scripture Catholic).

L'Osservatore Romano Pope Benedict XVI gives U. S. Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, right, the pallium, a woolen shawl symbolizing his bond to the Pope. June 29, 2009

A great Roman tradition for this solemnity is the conferral pallium on Metropolitan Archbishops, Primates and the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem by the Holy Father. Prior to a Motu Proprio promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1978, some bishops were also permitted to use the pallium.[i]

What is the pallium?  The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment originally only worn by the Pope. When worn by the Holy Father it symbolizes the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e., the “plenitude of pontifical office”). Its conferral upon Archbishops signifies their participation in the supreme pastoral power of the Pope by way of delegation for their particular church provinces.[ii] Until an Archbishop receives a pallium, he may not exercise metropolitan jurisdiction over the territory delegated to him. Once an Archbishop no longer holds that office, he may not use the pallium. If he is transferred and takes possession of a different Metropolitan See, he must petition the Holy Father for a new pallium. Archbishops are buried with their pallium. Ultimately, the pallium since the ninth century signifies the “union with the Apostolic See, and was an ornament symbolizing the virtue and rank of its wearer.”[iii]

The pallium hangs over the head and drapes in the shape of a “Y” down the front and back of the chasuble. It is typically worn for ceremonial liturgies and solemn events. A Metropolitan Archbishop may wear his pallium as a mark of his jurisdiction not only in his own Archdiocese but anywhere in his ecclesiastical province whenever he celebrates Mass (Canon 437, Code of Canon Law, 1983). The pallium is made of pure lamb’s wool with a total of six embroidered crosses on the front and back that are weighted.

The collection of the wool for the pallia is steeped in a rich tradition:

The Feast of St. Agnes is marked every year in Rome with a custom rich in symbolism and tradition. Two very young lambs from the sheepfold belonging to the Trappist fathers of the monastery of Tre Fontane near St. Paul’s Basilica are crowned and placed in straw baskets, which have been carefully decorated with red and white flowers and streamers: red standing for Agnes’ martyrdom, and white for her purity. They are then taken to the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls. There, at the end of the solemn feast day Mass, a procession composed of young girls in white dresses and veils, as well as carabinieri in red and blue uniforms and hats, who bear the lambs on their shoulders, proceeds down the center aisle. The lambs are ceremoniously incensed and blessed. They are then shown to the Pope at the Vatican and finally placed in the care of the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, who rear them until Maundy Thursday, when they are sheared. From the lambs’ wool are woven approximately 12 pallia a year.  The pallia are made by the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.[iv]

Once solemnly blessed following Second Vespers on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the pallia are kept in a special silver-gilt casket near the tomb of St. Peter. Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the pallium conferral rite is to take place at the beginning of the Mass in which the archbishop takes possession of his See. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have changed the conferral practice and summon all new Metropolitans to Rome to receive the pallium directly from the hands of the Holy Father.

This year Pope Benedict XVI conferred the following 38 Metropolitan Archbishops with the pallium[v]:

South and Central America (6)

Luis Cabrera Herrera of Cuenca, Ecuador
Fernando Saburido of Olinda e Recife, Brazil
Alberto Taveira Corrêa of Belem do Para, Brazil

Ricardo Tobón Restrepo of Medellin, Colombia
José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama, Panama
Luis Madrid Merlano of Nueva Pamplona, Colombia

Africa (8)

Alex Kaliyanil of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Gerard Tlali Lerotholi of Maseru, Lesotho
Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, Angola

Samuel Kleda of Douala, Cameroon
Joseph Atanga of Bertoua, Cameroon
Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa

Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar
Matthias Kobena Nketsiah of Cape Coast, Ghana

North America (6)

Albert Legatt of Saint-Boniface, Canada
Constancio Miranda Wechmann of Chihuahua, Mexico
Carlos Garfias Merlos of Acapulco, Mexico

Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, Ohio
Thomas Wenski of Miami, Florida

Europe (14)

Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy
Andrea Bruno Mazzocato of Udine, Italy
Antonio Lanfranchi of Modena-Nonantola, Italy
Luigi Moretti of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, Italy

Juan José Asenjo Pelegrina of Seville, Spain
Jesús Sanz Montes of Oviedo, Spain
Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Valladolid, Spain

Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England
Peter David Smith of Southwark, England
Anton Stres of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Andre-Joseph (Mutien) Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium
Dominik Duka of Prague, Czech Republic
Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno, Poland
Bernard Bober of Kosice, Slovakia

Asia (4)

Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Philippines
Francis Kallarakal of Verapoly, India
Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Kwangju, Korea
Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, Vietnam.

[i] Motu Propio On The Conferring Of The Sacred Pallium (June 29, 2010)

[ii] Canon 437 §1, CIC 1983 (June 29, 2010)

[iii] (June 29, 2010)

[iv] (June 29, 2010)

[v] (June 29, 2010)

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