Blessing bands of wool that archbishops will wear around their shoulders, Pope Francis said, “It is a sign that the shepherds do not live for themselves but for the sheep.”
“It is a sign that, in order to possess life, we have to lose it, give it away,” the pope said during his homily at Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul June 29.
The 30 archbishops receiving palliums included: Archbishops Wilton D. Gregory of Washington; Michael J. Byrnes of Agana, Guam; Peter A. Comensoli of Melbourne, Australia; Peter J. Hundt of St. John’s, Newfoundland; and John Wilson of Southwark, England. A pallium also was blessed for Archbishop Michael Mulhall of Kingston, Ontario, who reportedly was unable to attend.
The palliums are a woolen band that the heads of archdioceses wear around their shoulders over their Mass vestments.
Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St. Cecilia in Rome use wool from lambs blessed by the pope each year on the Jan. 21 feast of St. Agnes to make the palliums, which are kept by St. Peter’s tomb until the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The palliums are about 3 inches wide and have a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and the back. The strips are finished with black silk, almost like the hooves of the sheep the archbishop is symbolically carrying over his shoulders.
“I love the imagery” of the pallium, Archbishop Byrnes told Catholic News Service. “Just the way it’s shaped suggests carrying the lamb on your shoulders.”
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With thanks to Catholic News Service (CNS) and Cindy Wooden, where this article originally appeared.