VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will begin using a pallium of a different shape, said a Vatican official, citing “several problems and inconveniences” with the Pope’s current model.
Beginning Sunday, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father will use a new pallium. It will be circular and larger than his current one, with two pendants in the middle of the chest and back, and including the characteristic red crosses.
Monsignor Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, explained to L’Osservatore Romano this change brings back something of the form of the pallium used before Pope John Paul II, though longer and with red crosses (previously, the crosses were black).
Benedict XVI’s current model, which he chose at the beginning of his pontificate, hearkens back to the sixth century. The end of the cloth drapes over his left shoulder.
The papal pallium, a liturgical vestment used since ancient times, is a white woolen band worn over the chasuble by the pope and metropolitans archbishops. The pope’s is different from those of the other archbishops.
The shape of the papal pallium has changed through the centuries, with the circular form coming into use in the 10th or 11th century.
Monsignor Marini explained that the pallium draped over the shoulder chosen by Benedict XVI after his election “entailed several problems and inconveniences”; hence the decision to return to the circular shape.
Rooted in Tradition
However, this is not the only change made in the papal liturgical vestments. For several months the Pope has decided to use a golden staff in the form of a Greek cross, used by Pope Pius IX, instead of the silver one with the figure of the Crucified, introduced by Pope Paul VI.
“This choice does not mean simply a return to the ancient, but shows development in continuity, a rooting in Tradition that allows going forward in an orderly manner on the path of history,” Monsignor Marini said. “The pastoral staff, called ‘ferula,’ responds more faithfully to the form of the papal staff typical of the Roman tradition, which had always been in the shape of a cross and without the Crucified.”
Benedict XVI has also retuned to the use of the canauro (a red cap with a white border used only in winter), which had fallen into disuse since Pope John XXIII’s pontificate, as well as other ancient liturgical vestments.
Monsignor Marini explained that the “hermeneutics of continuity is always the exact criterion to read the path of the Church in time.” This, which the popes carry out in regard to the magisterium, “is also valid for the liturgy, to indicate the same continuity of the ‘lex orandi.'”
Benedict XVI “doesn’t always use ancient liturgical vestments, but also modern ones,” the monsignor clarified. “What is important is not so much antiquity or modernity, but beauty and dignity, important components of all liturgical celebrations.”