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Archbishop Fisher Concelebrates Mass with Pope Francis in Rome on Feast Day of St Peter and St Paul

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
30 Jun 2015

Pope Francis presided over the Feast Day Mass of St Peter and St Paul which was concelebrated by 46 international Metropolitan Archbishops at St Peter's Basilica yesterday. Pic courtesy of CNS

The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP was among Metropolitan Archbishops from across the world who concelebrated the Feasts Day Mass of St Peter and St Paul with Pope Francis at St Peter's Basilica in Rome yesterday.

Forty-six Metropolitan Archbishops named over the past year and representing 34 countries concelebrated the Mass with Pope Francis on 29 June. But in a break with tradition the conferring of the Pallium on each of the Archbishops present was not part of yesterday's liturgy.

Instead Pope Francis has set aside this element in order for the Investiture of the Pallium to take place in the prelates' home dioceses.

Earlier this year, Msgr Guido Marini, Papal Master of Liturgical Ceremonies announced the change explaining the break with tradition had been made by the Pontiff to better "highlight the relationship of the Metropolitan Archbishops with their local churches, and giving more of the faithful the possibility of being present at this significant rite."

Archbishop Fisher with his parents (front row) friends, clergy and colleagues after yesterday's Mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome

"The decision by the Holy Father to allow newly-appointed Metropolitan Archbishops to be invested with the Pallium not only allows the Archbishops to concelebrate with Pope Francis on the Feasts Day of St Peter and St Paul in Rome, but it also means the ceremony of investiture can be in the Sydney Archdiocese Cathedral in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio, suffragan-bishops, priests and faithful," Archbishop Fisher said when the change was announced.

In January this year, Pope Francis prepared the way for the new Archbishops to receive the Pallium when he blessed the lambs raised by Trappists monks outside Rome.  Benedictine nuns used the wool from the lambs to make the pallia or narrow wool bands which were then kept beside St Peter's Tomb until yesterday when they were blessed by the Pope.

In his blessing, Pope Francis said the woollen bands that will be worn over their shoulders, symbolised the "yoke" of the Gospel as well as their call to be shepherds dedicated to the pastoral care of their people.

Archbishop Fisher was among the 46 Metropolitan Archbishops at the Mass to mark the Feasts of St Peter and St Paul in Rome. Pic courtesy CNS

Although the Archbishops were not conferred with the Pallium yesterday, they were present for the Pope's blessing to underline their bond of unity and communion with him.

"The Church wants you to be men of prayer," the Holy Father told the Archbishops and asked them to be courageous "convinced and convincing witnesses," whose lifestyles matched the Gospel message and their preaching, and who are "not ashamed of the name of Christ and his Cross, not before the roaring lions or before the powers of the world."

For Archbishop Fisher, concelebrating the Feasts Day Mass of St Peter and St Paul and receiving the Pallium marked the culmination of the week-long pilgrimage he undertook with a small group of  family, close friends and clergy.

Among those who accompanied the Archbishop on his pilgrimage were Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady, Father Gerry Gleeson, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Archbishop's parents Gloria and Colin Fisher, family members together with friends and colleagues from the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Archbishop Fisher OP makes a pilgrimage to the Dominican Mother House of Santa Sabina

Arriving in Rome on 23 June, the Archbishop celebrated a welcome Mass for the group in the St Peter Chanel chapel of Domus Australia, the home away from home in Rome for Australia's Catholics.

The following day, the group had a chance to explore and pray at the Basilica St Clemente Scavi which dates back to the first century when it was used as a pagan temple. There was also a tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms and Nicholas V Chapel and a private tour of the Vatican's famed library.

On Thursday, 25 June the group attended a private Mass celebrated by Archbishop Fisher at the Altar of the Tomb of St Peter. There was also a tour of St Peter's Basilica and Rome's acclaimed Santa Croce University.

On Friday, 26 June the group made a pilgrimage to some of Rome's most historic and holy churches including the Basilica of St Mary Major, the Basilica of St John Lateran and the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls. There was also an opportunity to visit the Scala Sancta, the Holy Stairs where pilgrims climb the 28 marble steps on their knees to the Sancta Santorum, the personal chapel of Rome's earliest Popes.

Archbishop Fisher concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis and other Metropolitan Bishops at St Peter's Basilica yesterday. Pic courtesy CNS

Archbishop Fisher ascended the Holy Stairs on his knees and prayed for "all in the Archdicocese of Sydney."

That evening a reception was held at the residence of the Australian Ambassador to the Vatican, hosted by the Ambassador John McCarthy and his wife Christine.

On Saturday 27 June the pilgrims led by Archbishop Fisher travelled to Umbria to the hill towns of Assisi and Orvieto. The Archbishop celebrated a private Mass at Orvieto's 14th Century Cathedral's Holy Eucharistic Chapel, also known as the Chapel of Corporal, which commemorates the miracle of the Corporal of Bolsena in the 13th Century.

The following day, Archbishop Fisher and the group visited the Dominican Mother House at Santa Sabina and were given a reception hosted by the Order of Malta at the Villa del Priorato Di Malta on Rome's Aventine Hill. Archbishop Fisher has close links with the Order of Malta and is Conventual Chaplain of the Order of Malta's NSW Chapter. The villa where the reception was held is the home of the Grand Priory in Rome of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an order of chivalry which remains a sovereign entity. It also hosts the embassy of the Order of Malta to Italy.

Archbishop Fisher in front of the altar of the Chapel of the Corporal where the blood stained cloth of the Miracle of Bolsena is kept

Today, the final day of the pilgrimage, Archbishop Fisher will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at Domus Australia's St Peter Chanel Chapel.

Archbishop Fisher will be back in Sydney later this week. His Investiture with the Pallium as the Ninth Metropolitan Archbishop of Sydney will be held with Mass on Saturday, July 25, the Feast of St James the Greater and marks the first time this ancient and significant ceremony has been held in Australia.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher with the Australian Ambassador to the Vatican John McCarthy and his wife Christine McCarthy