Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 1999
Pallium a sign of archbishop's ministry
By WCR Staff
The pallium is said to be an article of clothing originally worn by Greek shepherds to keep warm.
Today, a smaller version of the pallium is worn as a liturgical vestment by the pope, and Catholic patriarchs and metropolitan archbishops.
Edmonton's Archbishop Thomas Collins will receive his pallium on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, from Pope John Paul in Rome.
But Collins won't be able to wear the vestment all the time. In fact, the June 29 celebration is the only time of the year when more than one bishop wears the pallium at the same liturgy.
In the early centuries of the Church, only the pope wore the pallium - today a circular band of white wool, about two inches wide, with foot-long extensions running down the front and back. The vestment is also decorated with six black silk crosses and is worn on top of the chasuble.
After about the fifth century, the pallium was worn by other bishops to whom the pope gave that privilege. In the ninth century, the practice was standardized so that all metropolitan archbishops could wear the pallium - but only within their ecclesiastical province.
For Collins, that means he can only wear it when he is celebrating Mass within the Edmonton, Calgary and St. Paul dioceses. And when he retires or resigns, he will no longer be permitted to wear the vestment.
The pallium symbolizes the archbishop's communion with the papacy and responsibility as archbishop. More generally, it symbolizes Christ the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd.
Part of the wool used to make the pallium comes from two lambs presented annually to the pope on the feast of St. Agnes (Jan. 21) by the Canons Regular of the Chapter of St. John of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
When the pope presents the pallium to new archbishops every June 29, this is part of the prayer he says over each of them:
"May this pallium be a symbol of unity and a sign of your communion with the apostolic see, a bond of love and an incentive to courage. On the day of the coming and manifestation of our great God and chief shepherd, Jesus Christ, may you and the flock entrusted to you be clothed with immortality and glory."