Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Papal Pallium : A Return to Tradition

Pope Francis holding one of the pallia
to be imposed on a new Metropolitan.
It differs very little from the pallium
he himself is wearing.
A welcome return on the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul was the traditional form of the pallium, used by Pope Francis. This form of the pallium, which has been used for centuries by the Popes, was relegated to disuse in unfortunate decisions taken by the Papal Masters of Ceremonies in 2005 and again in 2008.

Those determined to view every act of this Pontificate as a demonstration of the humility of Pope Francis, have heralded this change as further evidence of his simple approach. If anything, it is evidence of his desire to return to that form of pallium worn by his predecessors.

Until 2005, the pallium worn by the Roman Pontiff differed not at all from any other Latin Metropolitan Archbishop. The argument that the Pope should have a pallium distinctive from other bishops was never compelling and is not based in tradition.

We are pleased to post here images of some of Pope Francis' predecessors, wearing pallia in most respects identical with the form commonly seen today.

A study from Jacques-Louis David's famous painting
of the Coronation of Napoleon Buonaparte (1804).
Pope Pius VII is shewn wearing the traditional form of the pallium.

Although the ancient form of the pallium differed considerably from the present, both in its design and form, the insignia in its present form is recognisable from the mediaeval period. It consists of a strip of white wool approximately 6 centimetres wide and joined to form a circle. Attached to this circlet are two pendants, also of wool, approximately 30 centimetres in length and terminating in segment of black wool, rounded at its termination. These pendants hang upon the breast and the back of the wearer. The pallium is adorned with six crosses embroidered in BLACK silk, four crosses on the band and one on each pendant. Into the crosses that rest on the shoulder and in the front pendant are inserted three ornamental pins. These obviously were originally intended to keep the pallium in place, but they have long since been purely ornamental.

Pope Francis during the Mass in S' Peter's Basilica
shewn wearing again the traditional form of the pallium.

Saint Pius X wearing the pallium over the Papal fanon.
During the consecration of bishops in the Sistine Chapel circa 1910.

Pope Pius XI wearing the pallium over the Papal fanon.
The Pope is consecrating Archbishop Schuster of Milan.

Pope Pius XII shewn wearing the pallium.

Saint John XXIII wearing the pallium.

Pope Paul VI shewn wearing the pallium.

Pope John Paul I shewn wearing the pallium.

Saint John Paul II wearing the pallium.