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.
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).
"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.
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
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
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
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.
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.