Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP to Receive Pallium From Pope Francis in Rome

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
22 Jan 2015

The pallium is presented on 29 June - The Feast of Sts Peter and Paul

The feast day of St Agnes, 21 January, and the blessing of two lambs by Pope Francis also marks the preparation for the presentation of the pallium, a symbol of office,  to each new metropolitan archbishop from around the world.

The presentation will take place with the Holy Father at the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome on 29 June and will include Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, the ninth metropolitan archbishop of Sydney.

An ecclesiastical vestment, the pallium is a sign of unity with the Pope, the universality of the church as well as the archbishop's responsibility as shepherds of a local church.

The lambs are raised by Trappist monks outside Rome at the abbey of Tre Fontane and on the Feast of St Agnes brought to the Pope where he blesses them.

Pope Francis will present the pallium in St Peter's Basilica

On Holy Thursday they are shorn by Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St Cecilia in Rome and the white wool is used to make the pallia.

The woven woollen pallium is a narrow band with a loop in the centre resting on the shoulders over the chasuble with two independent sections in front and at the back. It is decorated with six black crosses.

When the new pallia are completed they are placed in a special silver-gilt casket near the tomb of St Peter, underneath the altar of the Basilica until 29 June.

Only the Pope and metropolitan archbishops wear the pallium and a metropolitan archbishop has to receive it before exercising his office in his ecclesiastical province, even if he was a metropolitan elsewhere. In other words they are not "transferrable".

The reason the lambs are brought to the Pope for blessing on the feast of St Agnes is because the Latin word for "lamb", agnus, sounds like her name and also because Agnes is derived from the feminine Greek adjective "hagne" meaning chaste, pure and sacred.

St Agnes

St Agnes was a thirteen year old Roman girl who suffered martyrdom for her faith and purity in 304. She is one of seven women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her bones are conserved beneath the high altar in the Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome, built over the catacomb that houses her tomb.

Archbishop Anthony will join the other archbishops on the morning of Monday 29 June at St Peter's Basilica.

Each will individually receive the pallium prior to the start of the Mass.

Prior to last year the pallia were presented during the liturgy. However Pope Francis broke with tradition to stress the presentation is not a sacramental act, but a symbolic one - nonetheless one he considers also carries  great responsibility.

He has said to previous recipients that the pallium is a symbol of unity and a sign of communion with the Apostolic See.

"May it be a bond of charity and a source of strength, so that on the day of the coming of our great God and the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, you may obtain, together with the flock entrusted to you, the robe of immortality and glory."