Friday, June 23, 2006

CNS STORY: Pope's pallium noticeably different from ones he'll give archbishops

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will place woolen bands, called palliums, around the necks of new archbishops June 29 as a symbol of their authority and responsibility.

The pope, too, wears a pallium over his chasuble when celebrating Mass, but his is noticeably different -- at least for the time being -- from the palliums worn by archbishops.

U.S. Archbishops Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, George H. Niederauer of San Francisco and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington are among the archbishops named in the past year who are expected to receive their palliums from Pope Benedict on the late-June feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

While the flippant may call it fashion, the pallium and the chasubles chosen by Pope Benedict actually are the result of a study of history and aesthetics.

The morning after Pope Benedict was elected last year, Archbishop Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, presented him with a draft of the new "Rites for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome."

The book, which included proposed texts for the Masses and prayer services marking the beginning of a pontificate, also included a suggestion for a new -- or rather, very old -- pallium.

For hundreds of years the pope's pallium, like the one still worn by archbishops, was a circular band of wool with a 12-inch-long strip hanging from the center down the front and the back.

The one chosen by Pope Benedict is wider and drapes around his neck; it is more than twice as long as an archbishop's pallium, with the ends hanging down his left side and reaching below his knees.

The pope's advisers did not make up the design, but recovered it from the first millennium of Christianity, said Marianist Father Silvano Maggiani, a liturgist and consultant to Archbishop Marini's office. The prototypes can be seen around the shoulders of archbishops depicted in the sixth-century mosaics in the churches of Ravenna, Italy.

The pallium was shortened over the centuries as the chasuble worn at Mass became heavier and more elaborately decorated, Father Maggiani said.

Especially with the so-called "fiddleback" chasuble common before the Second Vatican Council, a pallium hanging down the side just did not look right, he said.

"It is a matter of aesthetics -- in the original Greek sense of perception, allowing its meaning to be perceived," Father Maggiani said.

The pope and archbishops wear the pallium as a sign of their authority over the Christian community, but it is the Gospel authority of a shepherd called to carry his sheep, to lead them and feed them.

Father Maggiani said the fiddleback chasubles and even the fuller chasubles adopted after the Second Vatican Council often had strong designs or large images on the chest and back, which drew all attention away from the band of sheep's wool the pope and archbishops carried on their shoulders.

Msgr. Crispino Valenziano, another liturgist and Vatican consultant, presented the new papal pallium design to the press shortly after Pope Benedict's election and said it was part of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.

With more of a focus on the pallium, Pope Benedict also needed new chasubles, so a whole new collection was designed. Instead of having one strong central image, they are dotted with ancient symbols such as bees, shells and flames for Pentecost.

When Pope Benedict approved his new pallium, he also said a discussion would be held about changing the pallium given to archbishops, Father Maggiani said, but that discussion has not begun.

"Personally, I hope that in the future the archbishops will have a pallium like the pope's," the priest said. "When archbishops wear that small pallium, it looks like a collar or something. No one knows what it is."

However, even if the archbishop's pallium one day will resemble the one worn by the pope, it is unlikely to be identical.

An archbishop's pallium is made from the wool of lambs blessed by the pope on the feast of St. Agnes.

The pope's pallium is made of the wool of both lambs and sheep to reflect Jesus telling Peter, "Feed my lambs" and "Feed my sheep."

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