Wednesday June 27 2007      for immediate release

Archbishop Prendergast, S.J. shares the weight
and responsibility of Pope Benedict XVI

Symbolized in the pallium to be received in June 29 Vatican Ceremony

On June 29, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, five new Canadian Archbishops will take part in an ancient liturgical ceremony in St. Peters Basilica in Rome. The newly appointed Archbishops, all named by Pope Benedict XVI over the past seven months, are Gérard Pettipas, C.Ss.R. of Grouard-McLellan (Alberta); Richard Smith (Edmonton); Terrence Prendergast, S.J., (Ottawa); Brendan OBrien (Kingston) and Thomas Collins (Toronto).

Once the Pope has delivered the homily at one of the most significant masses of the year, the archbishops come forward to receive the pallium (Latin plural is pallia) from the Bishop of Rome: the Holy Father. This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the Bishop takes upon his shoulders.

The pallium is a circle of wool that hangs around the neck and shoulders with two long pieces draping one over the chest and the other along the back. It is decorated with six black crosses and weighed with pieces of lead.

The wool for the pallium comes from two lambs offered every year to the Pope on January 21, Feast of St. Agnes. They are first taken to the Church of St. Agnes to be blessed. The lambs arrive wearing floral crowns, one white and one red. These represent the purity of Agnes, which the archbishops should emulate, and the martyrdom of Agnes, which the archbishops should be prepared to follow.

The lambs are then shorn and the pallia are made. On the eve of the feast of the great apostles Peter and Paul (June 28), the pallia are stored overnight in the silver casket above Peter's tomb in the Vatican crypt. The following day (June 29) the pallia are given to the newly appointed metropolitan bishops, the only occasion in which more than one bishop can be seen wearing the pallium at the same time. Symbolically, the Pope is sharing his mission to "Feed my sheep and lambs" with the archbishops. The wool over the shoulders evokes the lamb over the shoulders of the Good Shepherd. It also reminds the archbishops of the burdens of their office. By investing each new Archbishop with the pallium, the Holy Father confers some of his own weight and responsibilities on him.

At his own inauguration of Petrine Ministry as Bishop of Rome on April 24, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI spoke moving words about the pallium he had received during that ceremony: The symbolism of the Pallium is even more concrete: the lambs wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life.

Source: Gilles Ouellette, Director of Communications
613-738-5025, ext. 238
Text: Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation