Story of the Pallium

Story of the Pallium as explained by Cardinal Roger Mahony on his blog:

Posted June 23, 2011

About 400 members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are en route to Rome for the bestowal of the Pallium upon Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, by Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

But what is the Pallium? It is a circular band about 2″ wide, worn about the neck and having two pendants–one hanging down in front and one behind. It is worn over the chasuble at Mass. Every February two lambs are blessed each year and their white wool is used to make the Pallium. The wool is presented to the Pope, and Sisters then make the Pallium for the new Archbishops.

Who wears the Pallium? The Pallium is worn by Archbishops who are also Metropolitan Archbishops–they head up a Province of Dioceses. Archbishop Gomez is the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Los Angeles, and he presides over the Archdiocese of Los Angeles directly, and indirectly, over the Dioceses of Monterey, Fresno, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego.

Interesting: even though Archbishop Gomez served as the Archbishop of San Antonio and wore the Pallium there, if he is transferred to a different Metropolitan Archdiocese, he is required to receive a new Pallium. The former Pallium is placed in his casket upon his death and Funeral Mass.

The new Palliums are solemnly blessed on the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and are kept in a special silver-gilt container in front of the Main Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.

It is not clear when the bestowal and use of the Pallium began in our Church. However, the first mention of the Pallium being used is in the first half of the 4th century–a long time ago. Pope Marcus, who died in 336, conferred the right to wear the Pallium on the Bishop of Ostia, near Rome. The wearing of the Pallium was more common in the 5th century.

The use of the Pallium among Metropolitan Archbishops did not become general until the 9th century, when the obligation was laid upon all Metropolitans.

The obvious purpose of the Pallium was to link in a special way the Bishop of Rome with all of the Metropolitan Provinces throughout the world. The oath of allegiance to the Holy Father remains an important aspect of this impressive Ceremony.

As early as the 6th century, the Pallium was considered a liturgical vestment to be used only in the Church, and indeed only during Mass.

I received the Pallium on June 29, 1986. Upon my retirement on February 28, 2011, I no longer wear the Pallium. It has been placed in my crypt in the Cathedral, and will be worn over my vestments upon my Funeral Mass and burial.

All of us accompany Archbishop Gomez with prayer and fraternal support as he receives his Pallium on June 29! It is a privilege for so many of us to be in Rome for this wondrous Liturgy which links the Universal Church to the See of Peter in Rome.

Posted June 29, 2011

Today, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a grand celebration of the Holy Eucharist took place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome! Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrated the 60th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood, as well as the Bestowal of the Pallium upon 40 new Archbishops from throughout the world.

Those of us in Los Angeles were particularly blessed since our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, received his Pallium as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Los Angeles. He was accompanied by all of the Auxiliary Bishops, many priests, Religious, and lay men and women.

The Holy Father’s homily focused upon the Gospel passage which was proclaimed 60 years ago at his own Ordination: “I no longer call you servants, but friends” (cf. John 15:15). He explained to us: “Friendship is not just about knowing someone, it is above all a communion of the will. It means that my will grows into ever greater conformity with his will. For his will is not something external and foreign to me, something to which I more or less willingly submit or else refuse to submit. No, in friendship, my will grows together with his will, and his will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself.”

This gradual blending of our own will with that of Jesus Christ is a daily task for us as disciples of Jesus, and the fullness of our friendship occurs when we are with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Speaking to the new Archbishops, Pope Benedict highlighted three aspects of receiving the Pallium. First, “It may remind us in the first instance of Christ’s easy yoke that is laid upon us (cf. Matthew 11:29f). Christ’s yoke is identical with friendship.”

Second, “Thus it reminds us of the Shepherd who himself became a lamb, out of love for us. It reminds us of Christ, who set out through the mountains and the deserts, in which his lamb, humanity, had strayed. It reminds us of him who took the lamb–humanity–me–upon his shoulders, in order to carry me home.”

Third, “Finally the Pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors–it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ.”

I recommend that you pray over the entire homily which can be found at the new Vatican news site:

Truly, today June 29, has been a great day of drawing closer to Jesus Christ and to feeling deeply the bonds which unite all of us around the world as members of the Body of Christ!

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