Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pope Receives Pallium, Fisherman's Ring

The Mass to install Pope Benedict XVI is underway and the Pope has had bestowed upon him two ancient traditions of the authority of the Bishop of Rome—the pallium and the Fisherman's Ring. The Pope uses his ring to officially seal any documents he writes.

In past installation ceremonies, all of the cardinals present have sworn their allegiance to the new Pontiff. But this time, only 12 people swore their allegiance—three cardinals, a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a married couple, a nun, a religious brother and two youths who have received the sacrament of confirmation.

17 comments:

Fr Julian said...

I was just wondering about the pallium itself. The pallium given to the Pope today was different from the normal type of pallium with black crosses and the 'tabs' hanging front and back. It was wider with red crosses and the ends hanging front and back but to the side. Is this something new? Something Byzantine? Something just for the inauguration?

Fr Julian said...

Having just posted that question I have now found some information from a Catholic Herald article in 2001:

"And though very few people noticed, the pope recently experimented with -- but quickly abandoned -- a different style of pallium, one based loosely on those worn by popes in the Middle Ages and still employed in Eastern churches.

"In its present Western form, dating back several hundred years, the pallium is a circular strip of hand-woven white wool nearly three inches wide, with two 14-inch ``tails'' hanging front and back. It is decorated with six black silk crosses, four of which have loops to hold long pins that often are topped with a precious stone.

"But on Christmas Eve 1999, the opening of the jubilee year, the pope appeared in St. Peter's Basilica with a custom-made pallium that was wider, much longer and decorated with red crosses.

"After the liturgy, the pallium was stored away and never used again. Informed sources say it failed to pass aesthetic and safety tests: With the pope's back curved with age, the extra lengths of wool doubled up in an ungainly way on his chest; and, more dangerously, they dangled precariously close to his uncertain footsteps."

Anonymous said...

I have heard that this is the version of the pallium used before the separation of eastern and western church. (Red crosses on white for the wounds of Jesus.)

John said...

Fr Julian: Thanks. I was wondering about that.

I have a feeling that a tradition might develop: The red pallium (as I'll call it), maybe without the needles (which could be dangerous in any wind) until a Pope starts to get sick, at which point the black pallium is used.

Fr Julian said...

However the red pallium was used with the three pins. It looked slightly strange having one of the pins hanging down at the front.

John said...

Yes, but my hypothesis is that the pins will shortly be goners. They wouldn't seem to pass the safety test in a wind.

Joseph said...

I doubt seriously that the pins will go. The pins are there to represent the nails of the cross. Red to signify the blood that Jesus shed for us.

The difference (I think) between this pallium (5 red crosses, with 3 pins) and the black cross one (6 black crosses with 4 pins) could be to demarcate the hierarchy of the church more clearly.

Fr Julian said...

The normal black crossed pallium also uses only three pins. Their original purpose was purely practical - to pin the pallium to the chasuble - however with the weighting of the ends of the 'tails' of the pallium with lead weights they became superfluous and, consequently, purely decorative. Any interpretation of them as the nails of Christ (was Christ only nailed with three nails?) is a spiritualisation of this decoration. I hadn't intended my original question to become a whole discussion of pallia. I should really be attending to pastoral concerns, but the point now fascinates me slightly. I know from studying the pallium pins at close quarters - I was at one time MC to my Archbishop - that the pins are decorated with a gem at the top - each of a different colour. I wonder why...

Fr Julian said...

As for pallium pins passing safety tests....

Maybe they will return to their original usage and actually pin the pallium to the chasuble as in days of yore. That would solve your health and safety issue.

Robert said...

Your statement that the "Fisherman's Ring" is used to seal documents is incorrect.

While the present pope has been presented with a large, gold signet ring, it is not used to seal documents. A separate, and larger, seal has been crafted and will be used for that purpose at the Vatican.

The last severeral popes had no signet ring at all. Paul VI, John Paul I & II used the rind fashioned for prelated of Vatican Council II, which while figuratively casted and engraved, was not actually a reversed mould signet seal. They used a separate seal for theit documenbt sealings, as well.

Robert said...

I's is wonderful to see the return of the proper, ancient pallium instead of the truncated version used for so long. One can hope that as time goes by, the more ancient version will be extended to or adopted by metropolitans and entitled bishops of the Roman Church.

I believe the more recent, truncated version of the pallium has something to do, like so many vestment abbreviations, with the wearing of clerical wigs. The general use of wigs impacted the style and manufacture of many articles of ecclesiastical vesture in the couple of hundred years of wiggery until the fashion ended in the early 19th Cen.

Robert said...

Oh fr. julian, what a common thing it is to spiritualize the most common pieces of ecclesiastical vesture or hardware with mystical meaning.

The usual question is why does he or do we___________? Fill in the blank. The temptation to concoct some pious mystical reason why goes back to the middle ages, when everything had to have a mystical meaning down to the number of steps under an altar.

For example, candles: "Christ is human and divine. The wick symbolizes Our Lord's divinity, and the wax hsis humanity, both burning together in a flame that symbolizes his ministry." Hogwash!

Candles are really used to add beauty and as honorifics in the liturgy.

Fr Julian said...

Indeed. We can overspiritualise. However back to the pallium and pins. It would seem I dismissed the idea of the pins being the nails too quickly, considering what has been said by Mgr Valenziano, a liturgist from the Anselmianum. I read on ZENIT that he said, in reference to the restored style of pallium:

"Benedict XVI's pallium is different from that of the last Popes, as it has the shape of the original pallium, explained Monsignor Valenziano.

"It is an ancient episcopal symbol woven in pure wool, which Roman Bishops have worn since the fourth century to symbolize the yoke of Christ, which the "servant of the servants of God," as the Pope is known, carries on his shoulders.

"On this occasion, the novelty is that the model is like those used by the Church in the first millennium and is inspired by the medieval mosaics of some churches of Rome.

"Much larger than the one used by John Paul II, the new Pope's pallium has images of "Jesus, the Good Shepherd," as the Pontiff carries it on his shoulders, as if it were a "lost sheep."

"The symbolic representation of the pallium is completed with five red crosses, a reminder of the "wounds of the Crucified and several pins, symbol of the nails""

Concerning the Fisherman's ring he said:

"The innovation of the Fisherman's Ring is that it will have the same image on it as the lead papal seal that the Pope uses to seal documents.

"It is an image of St. Peter with the boat and fishing nets, and for this reason is called the "the Fisherman's Ring," as the first Pope was that fisherman who, believing in Jesus' word, cast his net into the waters and miraculously caught a great quantity of fish.

"When fitting the ring, the Pope commented that he liked the size 24 -- "It is the double of 12" -- referring to the Twelve Apostles. It was forged by the Association of Roman Jewelers."

Nora said...

Just wondering what the design of the Papal ring really looks like? Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI will give us a visual? Also the gold robes all the bishops worn were very beautiful. One was adorned with what looked like an embroidered green Tau. Did each of the bishops have any say so in how their robes were designed? Lastly about that pallium and the Pope's homily. Simply superb!
Sincerely, Nora, SFO

Fantom said...

Is there anyone out there that can reccomend a good book on why the priest and pope dress in cossocks and skull caps.
I really wish Icould have met Pope John Paul II . But being not Catholic ,I don't think I will ever get a chance to vist any Popes.

Rob K said...

I is my understanding that candles were used primarily for light. No electricity in the early days- if you need to spiritualize or symbolize wicks and wax it's fine but most seems to grow out of practicality.
Rob K

Rob K said...

There was no electricity. Light was needed...so I guess any spiritualization or symbolism regarding wicks and wax and light are all nice but God works in and through nature and practical needs as well.