Friday, June 26, 2009

34 archbishops to receive pallium, symbol of metropolitan authority

On June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI will impose the pallium, symbolic of metropolitan authority, on 34 archbishops who were appointed during the course of the past year. The pallium, a thin strip of white wool, is a liturgical vestment worn by metropolitan archbishops. It is conferred on newly appointed archbishops each year on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is a holiday at the Vatican.

Among those receiving the pallium this year are several prelates from the US: Archbishops Gregory Ayrmond of New Orleands, Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Timothy Dolan of New York, George Lucas of Omaha, and Allen Vigneron of Detroit. Also included is Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the newly installed leader of England's Catholic hierarchy, will also receive the pallium. Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, who enjoyed the title of archbishop while working as secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, will now wear the pallium because he has become a metropolitan in his new role as Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.


The Pallium - History and Present Use

In my first post on the NLM,

I want to look at the pallium, which has seen a recent change introduced at the installation of our reigning Pontiff, Benedict XVI. (The lambs of whose wool this year's new pallia will be made were blessed this Monday, at which occasion the Holy Father wore a beautiful old papal stole again, this time of Leo XIII).

Let us begin by looking at the history of this parament. To this end I will give a translation of parts of the pertinent chapter from the book by Fr. Joseph Braun, Die liturgischen Paramente in Gegenwart und Vergangenheit (The Liturgical Paraments in Present and Past), which has been reprinted by German Catholic publisher Nova et Vetera as recently mentioned by Shawn.

"The time at which the pallium was introduced can not be determined. According to the liber pontificalis, it was already in use at Rome in the second quarter of the 4th century; for it tells us that Pope Marcus († 336) had granted the pallium to the bishop of Ostia as consecrator of the popes. However reliable this information may be, in any case the pallium must have been used at Rome well before the beginning of the 6th century; or else the author of the liber pontificalis, who lived at the beginning of the 6th century, could not have possibly ascribed its concession to the bishop of Ostia to a po pe from the first half of the 4th century. But also the safely attested concessions of the pallium from the first half of the 6th century - e.g., in 513 St. Cæsarius of Arles was granted the pallium by Pope Symmachus - prove that the pallium had come into use at Rome at the latest in the course of the 5th century.

"In the occident, it was always solely the pope who was by his own right entitled to wear the pallium; all others were always only allowed to use it by a special grant conceded by him. Some examples of such concessions of the pallium are already f ound in the 6th century, especially in the pontificate of Gregory the Great. Above all it were papal vicars and metropolitans who were deemed worthy of the honour of the pallium, but probably also simple bishops, suffragans of the metropolia of Rome as well as bishops not belonging to that circumscription, of which latter the first one to obtain the pallium was Syagrius of Autun at the hands of Gregory the Great. The pallium had certainly not yet become a general decoration of archbishops by the turn of the 6th, but probably not even in the eighth century. In any case, as we can see from the correspondence of St. Boniface with Pope Zachary, during their lifetimes there was no obligation for m etropolitans to petition Rome for the pallium. Such an obligation can only be demonstrated in the second half of the 9th century and must therefore have come into practice approximately between 750 and 850. Its introduction had as purposes a deeper connection of the metropolitans with the See of Peter, the centre of unity and ecclesial life, the elimination of self-aggrandising efforts of some metropolitans of that ti me and a new consolidation of the system of metropolitans, which had gotten into dissolution and decay."

After explaining more about the history of the use of the pallium, we then come to the point that immediately concerns us here:
"Very interesting is the history of the formal development of the pallium. Having without a doubt originally been a cloth folded together in the shape of a strip, it w as according to all evidence already in the 7th, yes in the 6th century a mere white band. It was put on by laying it around shoulders, neck and breast in such a manner that from the left shoulder one of its ends hung down forward, the other one backward. Pins for fastening the pallium were not used inititally, they only came into use probably in the 8th century, probably in connection with a new manner of putting on the pallium: letting fall down both ends in the middle of breast and ba ck, instead of directly from the left shoulder as heretofore, an innovation which of course demanded the use of pins. The change was in itself not very significant but the first step to the later complete reshaping of the pallium. The next step consisted in giving to the pallium permanently, by sewing it together accordingly, the form which it otherwise only acquired through putting it on [sc. in the new manner described before]. When this step occurred cannot be determined exactly, but in any case soon after that first step, and at the earliest likely outside of Rome, where the pallium already in the 9th century, it appears, obtained a fixed form. The third and last step was to transform the pallium to a formal ring, furnished with a vertically hanging strip at the front and the back. The left half of that ring was composed, in memory of the h eretofore usual form, of a double layer of cloth. Put on, the pallium, which may be called T-shaped in opposition to the previous Y-shaped one, now lay upon the upper arms, not as previously upon the shoulders. The modern pallium was now essentially completed, it only needed to reduce its measures. This decrementation began approximately in the 14th century, but became more pronounced only since the end of the 15th, until finally in the course of the 17th century the pallium had arrived at the dimensions of today and a further shortening was not possible any more. An overview of this transformation of the pallium can be seen on this image:

"As for the material of the pallium, from time immemorial it was normally made of white wool, but even in the 10th century other material was not inadmissible per se, as can be deduced from a bull of John XV to Archbishop Liavizo of Hamburg.

"As decoration of the pallium, only crosses had ever been employed. In the beginning, two only were applied, one on the front and one the back end. A greater number of crosses seems only to have become common during the 9th century, but a determined precept about their number did not exist in the entire middle ages. Even the pallium of Archbishop Klemens August of Cologne († 1761) still showed eight crosses, not six like today.

"Concerning the colour, the crosses on the older monuments are normally blackish, but red ones do also occur. The medieval liturgists mostly describe the crosses as red. On the few remains of pallia which have been preserved from the middle ages, the crosses are mostly black resp. dark blue; they are red on the fragment of a pallium from the 15th century in the Trier cathedral museum. Of the eight crosses of the pallium of the Archbishop Klemens August two were black, the other ones red. In short, also regarding the colour of the crosses until the most recent times there was no fixed rule, only that they were either black (dark blue) or red, but not of another colour.

"The pins, with which the pallium was fixed in the 8th century, remained even when the pallium had taken on a fixed form, initially perhaps still to affix the pallium to the chasuble. Later, and thus at least already about 1300, they were mere decoration, which is why now loops were attached at the crosses to receive the pins."

Now let us consider, in the light of this historical development, the pallium as recently adopted by the Supreme Pontiff. Let me say in advance, however, that this is in no way intended to be a criticism of our gloriously reigning Holy Father, who was, u
pon his election to the pontifical throne, presented with the new design as a fait accompli, and whose careful and patient reform of the reform, beginning by a reorientation of the sacred liturgy, I fully support. This is only about the new papal pallium itself as a new form for an ancient piece of vesture. Likewise, I am not commenting on the aesthetics of the new design or on the reenforced likeness to the eastern omophorion, but purely on its relation to the historical developement of this parament in the West. This is how it now lo oks:

Obviously, the earliest form was adopted. The question already arises whether the readoption of this form, which has not been worn in the West since the eighth century, i.e. for almost 1300 years, discarding a continuous development of 1000 years, does not constitute a form of antiquarianism. Furthermore, even though the earliest form has been adopted, the pins have remained. As we have seen, the pins only
appeared when there was need for them, because the ends of the pallium did not hang down directly from the shoulder anymore, but from the middle, to which they were fixed by these pins. The continued use of the pins together with a form that was worn before the use of the pins first arose seems inconguous. They serve no purpose, and while that is not necessarily an argument against them and they did not serve a practical purpose in the pallium as worn until 2005 and still worn by metropolitan archbishops, there they represent, as so many elements of paraments, the vestige of a former use. But in returning to a form used before the first appearance of the pins, these become anachronistic. Likewise, the change in the colour of the cross appears somewhat arbitrary. A s we have seen, the earliest monuments only show black crosses, and there never was a fi xed rule until relatively recently, when the colour was settled on black. To choose red for all the crosses seems unmotivated. The same could be said of their number. When a pallium of this form was worn, it was adorned by only two crosses. The five crosses we now see are without example. Lastly, the introduction of a special form of the papal pallium as opposed to that of the metropolitans is without precedent and runs counter to that deeper bond of unity which is to be symbolised by the concession of the pallium to the metropolitans. These are some considerations which might be taken into account when evaluating the introduction of this new form and the desirability of its continued use. Obviously, as mentioned above, there are also other considerations. Also, it should again be stressed that these somewhat critical thoughts about the new form of the pallium do not in any way detract from the immensely praiseworthy work of a gradual reorientation and re-reform of the liturgy, which His Holiness has begun to undertake.

On a different note, concerning the use of the pallium by metropolian archbishops, Fr. Braun writes, of the law then applying:

"Also regarding the days, the use of the pallium by archbishops and bishops is restricted. It is only on certain high feasts named in the Pontificale and very special o ccasions, as the conferral of Holy Orders, the Consecration of a bishop and the blessing of abbots and nuns, on which they may wear this vestment, unless more has been conceded to them by special privilege."

This rule, certainly known to our ceremonialists, seems to have fallen into oblivion, since, as far as I know, it doesn't apply any more under the new Pontificale. This can be seen by the pictures of the two pontifical Masses below, celebrated by Msgrs. Piñera and Prendergast, who each wore their pallium on a day not specified under the old rules. This is not to criticise these bishops, who were certainly and understandably unaware of the rule. However, I believe in the context of a Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite the old Pontificale should be followed, and the pallium therefore only be worn on the days there specified.




Form and use of the mo

dern pallium

The modern pallium is a circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind. The pendants are about two inches wide and twelve inches long, and are weighted with small pieces of lead covered with black silk. The remainder of the pallium is made of white wool, part of which is supplied by twolambs presented annually as a tax by the Lateran Canons Regular to the Chapter of St. John on the feast of St. Agnes, solemnly blessed on the high altar of that church after the pontifical Mass, and then offered to the pope. The ornamentation of the pallium consists of six small black crosses -- one each on

the breast and back, one on each shoulder, and one on each pendant. The crosses on the breast, back, and left shoulder are provided with a loop for the reception of a gold pin set with a precious stone. The pallium is worn over the chasuble.

The use of the pallium is reserved to the pope and archbishops, but the latter may not use it until, on petition they have received the permission of the Holy See. Bishops sometimes receive the pallium as a mark of special favour, but it does not increase their po

wers or jurisdiction nor give them precedence. The pope may use the pallium at any time. Others, even archbishops, may use it only in their respective dioceses, and ther

e only on the days and occasions designated in the "Pontificale" (Christmas, the Circumcision, and other specified great feasts; during the conferring of Holy orders, the consecration of abbots, etc.), unless its use is extended by a special privilege. Worn by the pope, the pallium symbolizes the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e. the plenitude of pontifical office); worn by archbishops, it typifies their participation in the supreme pastoral power of the pope, who concedes it to them for their proper church provinces. An archbishop, therefore, who has not

received the pallium may not exercise any of his functions as metropolitan, nor any metropolitan prerogatives whatever; he is even forbidden to perform any episcopal act until invested with the pallium. Similarly, after his resignation, he may not use the pallium; should he be transferred to anotherarchdiocese. He must again petition the Holy Father for the pallium. In the case of bishops, its use is purely ornamental. The new palliums are solemnly blessed after the Second Vespers on the feast

of Sts. Peter and Paul, and are then kept in a special silver-gilt casket near the Confessio Petri until required. The pallium is conferred in Rome by a cardinal-deacon, and outside of Rome by a bishop; in both cases the ceremony takes place after the celebration of Mass and the administration of the oath of allegiance.

History and antiquity

It is impossible to indicate exactly when the pallium was first introduced. According to the "Liber Pontificalis", it was first used in the first half of the fourth century. This book relates, in the life of Pope Marcus (d. 336), that he conferred the right of wearing the pallium on the Bishop of Ostia, because the consecration of the pope appertained t

o him. At any rate, the wearing of the pallium was usual in the fifth century; this is indicated by the above-mentioned reference contained in the life of St. Marcus which dates from the beginning of the sixth century, as well as by the conferring of the pallium onSt. Cæsarius of A

rles by Pope Symmachus in 513. Besides, in numerous other references of the sixth century, the pallium is mentioned as a long-customary vestment. It seems that, from the beginning, the pope alone had the absolute right of wearing the pallium. Its use by others was tolerated only in virtue of the permission of the pope. We hear of the pallium being conferred on others, as a mark of distinction, as early as the sixth century. The honour was usually conferred on metropolitans, especially those nominated vicars by the pope, but it was sometime

s conferred on simple bishops (e.g. on Syagrius of Autun, Donus of Messina, and John of Syracuse by Pope Gregory the Great). The use of the pallium among metropolitans did not become general until the ninth century, when the obligation was laid upon all metropolitans of forwarding a petition for the pallium accompanied by a solemn profession of faith, all consecrations being forbidden them before the reception of the pallium. The object of this rule was to bring the metropolitans into more intim

ate connection with the seat of unity and the source of all metropolitan prerogatives, the Holy See, to counteract the aspirations of various autonomy-seeking metropoli

tans, which were incompatible with the Constitution of the Church, and to counteract the evil influences arising therefrom: the rule was intended, not to kill, but to revivify metropolitan jurisdiction. The oath of allegiance which the recipient of the pallium takes t

oday originated, apparently, in the eleventh century. It is met with during the reign ofPaschal II (1099-1118), and replaced the profession of faith. It is certain that a tribute was paid for the reception of the pallium as early as the sixth century. This was abrogated by Pope Gregory the Great in the Roman Synod of 595, but was reintroduced later as partial maintenance of the Holy See. These pallium contributions have often been, since the Middle Ages, the subject of embittered controversies, the attitude of many critics being indefensibly extreme and unjustifiable.

Character and significance

As early as the sixth century the pallium was considered a liturgical vestment to be used only in the church, and indeed only during Mass, unless a special privilege determined otherwise. This is proved conclusively by the correspondence between Gregory the Great and John of Ravenna concerning the use of the pallium. The rules regulating the original use of the pallium cannot be determined with certainty but its use, even before the sixth century, seems to have had a definite liturgical character. From early times more or less extensive restrictions limited the use of the pallium to certain days. Its indiscriminate use, permitted to Hincmar of Reims by Leo IV (851) and to Bruno of Cologne by Agapetus II (954) was contrary to the general custom. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, just as today, the general rule was to limit the use of the pallium to a few festivals and some other extraordinary occasions. The symbolic character now attached to the pallium dates back to the time when it was made an obligation for all metropolitans to petition the Holy See for permission to use it. The evolution of thi

s character was complete about the end of the eleventh century; thenceforth the pallium is always designated in the papal Bulls as the symbol of plenitudo pontificalis officii. In the sixth century the pallium was the symbol of the papal office and the papal power, and for this reason Pope Felix transmitted his pallium to his archdeacon, when, contrary to custom, he nominated him his successor. On the other hand, when used by metropolitans, the pallium originally signified simply union with the Apostolic See, and was the symbol of the ornaments of virtue which should adorn the life of the wearer.

Formal development

There is a decided difference between the form of the modern pallium and that in vogue in early Christian times, as portrayed in the Ravenna mosaics. The pallium of the sixth century was a long, moderately wide, white band, ornamented at its extremity with a black or red cross, and finished off with tassels; it was draped around the neck, shoulders, and breast in such a manner that it formed a V in front, and the ends hung down from the left shoulder, one in front and one behind (see illustration). In the eighth century it became customary to let the ends fall down, one in the middle of the breast and the other in the middle of the back, and to fasten them there with pins, the pallium thus becomingY-shaped. A further development took place during the ninth century (according to pictoral representations, at first outside of Rome where ancient traditions were not maintained so st

rictly): the band, which had hither to been kept in place by the pins, was sewed Y-shaped, without, however, being cut. The present circular form originated in the tenth or eleventh century. Two excellent early examples of this form, belonging respectively to Archbishop St. Heribert (1021) and Archbishop St. Anno (d. 1075), are preserved in Siegburg, Archdiocese of Cologne. The two vertical bands of the circular pallium were very long until the fifteenth century, but were later repeatedly shortened until they now have a length of only about twelve inches. The illustration indicates thehistorical development of the pallium. At first the only decorations on the pallium were two crosses near the extremities. This is proved by the mosaics at Ravenna and Rome. It appears that the ornamentation of the pallium with a greater number of crosses did not become customary until the ninth century, when small crosses were sewed on the pallium, especially over the shoulders. There was, however, during the Middle Ages no definite rule regulating the number of crosses, nor was there any precept determining their colour. They were generally dark, but sometimes red. The pins, which at first served to keep the pallium in place, were retained as ornaments even after the pallium was sewed in the proper shape, although they no longer had any practical object. That the insertion of small leaden weights in the vertical ends of the pallium was usual an early as the thirteenth century is proved by the discovery in 1605 of the pallium enveloping the body of Boniface VIII, and by the fragments of the pallium found in the tomb of Clement IV.


There are many different opinions concerning the origin of the pallium. Some trace it to an investiture by Constantine the Great (or one of his successors); others consider it an imitation of the Hebrew ephod, the humeral garment of the high priest. Others again declare that its origin is traceable to a mantle of St. Peter, which was symbolical of his office as supreme pastor. A fourth hypothesis finds its origin in a liturgical mantle, which, they assert, was used by the early popes, and which in the course of time was folded in the shape of a band; a fifth says its origin dates from the custom of folding the ordinary mantle-pallium, an outer garment in use in imperial times; a sixth declares that it was introduced immediately as a papal liturgical garment, which, however, was not at first a narrow strip of cloth, but, as the name suggests, a broad, oblong, and folded cloth. Concerning these various hypotheses seeBraun, "Die liturgische Gewandung im Occident und Orient," sect. iv, ch. iii, n. 8, where these hypotheses are exhaustively examined and appraised. To trace it to an investiture of the emperor, to the ephod of the Jewish high-priest, or to a fabled mantle of St. Peter, is entirely inadmissible. 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.


The omophorion of the Greek Rite -- we may here pass over the other Oriental rites -- corresponds to the Latin pallium, with the difference that in the Greek Rite its use is a privilege not only of archbishops, but of all bishops. It differs in form from the Roman pallium. It is not a circular garment for the shoulders, with short pendants before and behind, but is, like the original Roman pallium, a broad band, ornamented with crosses and draped loosely over the neck, shoulders, and breast. The only change in the omophorion has been the augmentation of its width. We find distinct testimony to the existence of the omophorion as a liturgical vestment of the bishop in Isidore of Pelusium about 400. It was then made of wool and was symbolical of the duties of bishops as shepherds of their flocks. In the miniatures of an Alexandrian "Chronicle of the World", written probably during the fifth century we already find pictorial representation of the omophorion. In later times we meet the same representation on the renowned ivory tablet of Trier, depicting the translation of some relics. Among the pictures dating from the seventh and eighth centuries, in which we find the omophorion, are the lately discovered frescoes in S. Maria, Antiqua in the Roman Forum. The representation in these frescoes is essentially the same as its present form. Concerning the origin of the omophorion similar theories have been put forth as in the case of the pallium. Attempts have been made to prove that the omophorion was simply an evolution of the ordinary mantle or pallium, but it was most probably derived from the civil omophorion, a shoulder garment or shawl in general use. We must suppose either that the bishops introduced directly by a positive precept as a liturgical pontifical badge a humeral cloth resembling the ordinary omophorion and called by that name, or that the civil omophorion was at first used by the bishops as a mere ornament without any special significance, but in the course of time gradually developed into a distinctively episcopal ornament, and finally assumed the character of an episcopal badge of office.