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 CNS Story:

PALLIUM Jun-23-2009 (600 words) Backgrounder. xxxi

Receiving woolen pallium, archbishops are reminded they are shepherds

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sign of an archbishop's authority is not a scepter, but a circular stole made of lamb's wool to evoke the idea that he is, first of all, a shepherd.

The stole, called a pallium, goes around the archbishop's neck and is worn over his chasuble when he celebrates the Eucharist. It has a 12-inch strip of material hanging down the front and back.

Every year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope places a pallium around the neck of each prelate named in the past year to head an archdiocese.

Prelates from the U.S. and Canada scheduled to receive a pallium from Pope Benedict XVI this year are: Archbishops Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb.; Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans; J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, will be among those receiving the pallium.

As the church's chief pastor, Pope Benedict also wears a pallium. But while an archbishop's is made from the wool of lambs blessed by the pope on the feast of St. Agnes, the pope's is made of the wool of both lambs and sheep to reflect Jesus telling Peter "Feed my lambs" and "Feed my sheep."

For more than three years, Pope Benedict used a pallium that was wider, longer and worn differently from the ones given to archbishops.

When he was elected in April 2005, the pope accepted a pallium based on the design of the pallium from the first millennium of Christianity. With the pallium draped around his shoulders, its ends hung down his left side and reached below his knees.

In June 2008 Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of ceremonies, announced that Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II, would go back to wearing a pallium similar to the ones worn by the archbishops.

Msgr. Marini, who constantly invokes a desire to illustrate liturgical "development in continuity" with the past to explain how and why Pope Benedict's liturgies have been mixing older and modern vestments, said using the shorter pallium showed how it had changed "over the span of more than 12 centuries." But he also said the short version was easier to wear and so was more practical.

When the long pallium was introduced in 2005, Vatican officials had explained that, historically, the pallium became shorter as the chasubles worn at Mass became heavier and more elaborately decorated. Even after the Second Vatican Council, when lighter materials were used again, chasubles tended to have a strong design on the chest and a long pallium hanging down one side seemed to clash aesthetically.

Accepting the longer pallium, Pope Benedict also accepted a new set of chasubles dotted with ancient symbols such as bees, shells or flames for Pentecost, rather than having a large central design.

But now that Pope Benedict uses both the newer chasubles as well as those of his predecessors, the short pallium was judged to be more appropriate.

When Pope Benedict went to L'Aquila, Italy, in April to visit the survivors of a major earthquake, he carried with him the long pallium he had received when he was elected.

Visiting the severely damaged Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila and venerating the remains of St. Celestine V, a 13th-century pope who abdicated just a few months after his election, Pope Benedict placed the long woolen pallium on the saintly pope's casket and left it there as a gift.


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