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Metropolitan Archbishops receive the Pallium

METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS WILL RECEIVE THE PALLIUM ON 29 JUNE

Vatican City, 25 June 2013 – Pope Francis will impose the pallium upon 34 metropolitan archbishops in this year's ceremony on 29 June, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul:


Pallium
The pallium (derived from the Roman pallium or palla, a woolen cloak) is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has remained connected to the papacy. Essentially the same garment is worn by all Eastern Orthodox bishops, and is called omophor. 

The pallium, in its present Western form, is a narrow band, "three fingers broad", woven of white lamb's wool from sheep raised by Trappist monks, with a loop in the centre resting on the shoulders over the chasuble and two dependent lappets, before and behind; so that when seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y. It is decorated with six black crosses, one on each tail and four on the loop, is doubled on the left shoulder and sometimes is garnished, back and front, with three jeweled gold pins. The two latter characteristics seem to be survivals of the time when the Roman pallium was a simple scarf doubled and pinned on the left shoulder. 

In origin, the pallium and the omophor are the same vestment. The omophor is a wide band of cloth, much larger than the modern pallium, worn by all Eastern Orthodox bishops and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite. The theory that explains its origin in connection with the figure of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb on his shoulders, so common in early Christian art, may be an explanation a posteriori. The ceremonial connected with the preparation of the pallium and its bestowal upon the Pope at his coronation, however, suggests some such symbolism. The lambs whose wool is destined for the making of the pallia are solemnly presented at the altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes. The Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere later weave the lambs' wool into pallia. 

The awarding of the pallium became controversial in the Middle Ages, because popes charged a fee from those receiving them, acquiring hundreds of millions of gold florins for the papacy and bringing the award of the pallium into disrepute. This process was condemned by the Council of Basel in 1432, which referred to it as "the most usurious contrivance ever invented by the papacy". The fee was later abandoned amid charges of simony. 

For his formal inauguration, Pope Benedict XVI adopted an earlier form of the pallium, from a period when it and the omophor were virtually identical. It is wider than the modern pallium although not as wide as the modern omophor, made of wool with black silk ends, and decorated with five red crosses, three of which are pierced with pins, symbolic of Christ's five wounds and the three nails. Only the Papal pallium was to take this distinctive form. Beginning with the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29, 2008) Benedict XVI reverted to a form similar to that worn by his recent predecessors, albeit in a larger and longer cut and with red crosses, therefore remaining distinct from pallia worn by metropolitans. 

At present, only the Pope, metropolitan archbishops, and the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem wear the pallium. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, a metropolitan had to receive the pallium before exercising his office in his ecclesiastical province, even if he was previously metropolitan elsewhere, but these restrictions were absent in the revised 1983 Code of Canon Law. No other bishops, even non-metropolitan archbishops or retired metropolitans, are allowed to wear the pallium unless they have special permission. An explicit exception is made for the rarely-realised scenario in which a person not yet a bishop is appointed Pope, in which case the bishop ordaining the new Pope wears the pallium during the ceremony.  

The custom of blessing the lambs (whose wool will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles) takes place every year on the 21 January liturgical memory of St. Agnes, a virgin who suffered martyrdom about the year 305 and whose symbol is a lamb. She is buried in the basilica named after her on the Via Nomentana in Rome, and it is there that the lambs are taken after the papal blessing.

The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains and the palliums are made by the Sisters of St. Cecelia from the newly-shorn wool.