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Biblical Tradition: Pope Francis Blesses Pallia

In a gesture deeply rooted in Holy Scripture, Pope Francis blessed a total of 42 pallia last Saturday and presented them to the newly appointed archbishops, reminding them of the fundamental mission of Jesus Christ.

Significance and Ceremony

A pallium is a band made of sheep's wool, symbolizing the sheep from God's flock that the shepherd carries on his shoulders to protect it from danger. Adorned with six black silk crosses, the pallium will be placed on the shoulders of the 42 new metropolitan archbishops appointed over the past year.

On this occasion, Pope Francis said, “Today the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed in the last year receive the pallium. In communion with Peter and following the example of Christ, the gate for the sheep, they are called to be zealous shepherds who open the doors of the Gospel and, through their ministry, help to build a Church and a society of open doors.”

Only metropolitan archbishops and the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem are conferred with the white pallium with black crosses, symbolizing communion, authority, and unity with the pope and his pastoral mission to shepherd the people of God.

Historical Context

Traditionally, this ceremony takes place on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, who both suffered martyrdom for Christ in the Eternal City.

“The Apostles Peter and Paul,” Pope Francis said, “witnessed first-hand the work of God, who opened the doors of their interior prisons but also the actual prisons into which they were thrown because of the Gospel. The Lord also opened before them the doors of evangelization, so they could have the joy of encountering their brothers and sisters in the fledgling communities and bring the hope of the Gospel to all. Now, this year we also are preparing to open the Holy Door.”

Pope Francis will open the Holy Door on December 24 for the Jubilee. Rome is expecting a record number of visitors and pilgrims to come to the city of the apostles Peter and Paul for this occasion.

Adapted by Jacob Stein

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