It was basically a quiet day at the Vatican, especially for Pope Francis who did not have any public speeches but who did receive a number of people in private audiences including Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples who just returned from Vietnam, a papal nuncio, two archbishops from Brazil and Italy, the ambassador from Colombia on his farewell visit and a delegation of Italo-Latin American parliamentarians.

However, there was an important story concerning changes Pope Francis has made in the bestowal of the pallium on new metropolitan archbishops. First reported in America magazine, the announcement appeared today on the Vatican news portal, news.va


Vaticanista Gerard O’Connell wrote in the January 28 edition of America magazine that Pope Francis has decided that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops will henceforth take place in the prelates’ home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs. America is a national Catholic weekly magazine published by Jesuits in the United States.

O’Connell writes that this year, however, the Holy Father will concelebrate Mass with the archbishops on June 29 and afterwards will give each metropolitan the pallium “in a private manner.” The pallium ceremony traditionally takes place in Rome on the June 29th solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. (Photo from news.va)


The America reports says Pope Francis “believes that in this way the ceremony  ‘will greatly favor the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history’. Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Ceremonies of papal liturgies stated this when he broke the news in a January 12 letter to nuncios in countries where there are metropolitan archbishops that were expected to receive the pallium from the Pope in the Vatican on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.”

Msgr. Marini, who also gave an interview to Vatican Radio, said, “Pope Francis believes that this new custom can serve to advance that journey of synodality in the Catholic Church which, from the beginning of his pontificate, he has constantly emphasized as particularly urgent and precious at this time in the history of the Church.”

It will be the nuncio, the papal ambassador, in each country who will formally bestow the pallium in a ceremony to be determined individually with each new metropolitan.

The pallium, which is placed on the shoulders of each archbishop and worn at all liturgical ceremonies in his own archdiocese, is a band of white wool with two hanging pieces, front and back, that is decorated with six black crosses and represents the authority of a metropolitan archbishop and unity with the Holy Father.  The Pope also wears a pallium. The wool used in weaving the palliums comes from baby lambs  – lambs under one year of age – that are blessed each year in the Basilica of St. Agnese in Rome on her January 21 feast day and then brought to the Apostolic Palace to the Holy Father.

In 2013 Abp. Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis received the pallium from Pope Francis: you can see it here as he shows it to a friend. (JFL photos)

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The America article said Pope Francis decided to make this change “after a long reflection and upon receiving advice which he had requested.” He said the Holy Father has decided that, “the pallium will be blessed during the Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican, but placed on the Metropolitan Archbishop in his own diocese, by his representative, the Apostolic Nuncio.”

On June 27, 2012, new rites for bestowing palliums were announced. A Holy See Press Office statement said, “Things will remain substantially the same but this year, following a logic of development in continuity, it has been decided simply to move the rite itself, and it will now take place before the Eucharistic celebration.” The statement indicated that the changes were made to shorten the rite. The names of the archbishops will be read out before the opening procession and the rite of the palliums will take place once the Holy Father reaches the altar.  The changes to the rite were approved by Pope Benedict.