The tradition of the pallium dates back to at least the fifth century. Metropolitan archbishops wear the pallium as a symbol of authority and unity with the Holy See. It serves as a sign of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese, as well as the other particular dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.
The new metropolitan archbishops of Manila, Dublin, Lyon, Seville, Naples, and Hyderabad are among the 34 archbishops who will receive the palliums blessed today by the pope.
Pope Francis said that the pallium is a “sign of unity with Peter” which recalls “the mission of the shepherd who gives his life for the flock. It is in giving his life that the shepherd, himself set free, becomes a means of bringing freedom to his brothers and sisters.”
The pope also prayed before the basilica’s bronze statue of St. Peter, which was adorned for the feast with a papal tiara and a red cope.
In his homily, the pope said: “We too have been touched by the Lord; we too have been set free. Yet we need to be set free time and time again, for only a free Church is a credible Church.”
“Like Peter, we are called to be set free from a sense of failure before our occasionally disastrous fishing. To be set free from the fear that paralyzes us, makes us seek refuge in our own securities, and robs us of the courage of prophecy,” he said.
“Like Paul, we are called to be set free from hypocritical outward show, free from the temptation to present ourselves with worldly power rather than with the weakness that makes space for God, free from a religiosity that makes us rigid and inflexible; free from dubious associations with power and from the fear of being misunderstood and attacked.”
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A delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was present at the Mass. The Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon headed the delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
“Your welcome presence is a precious sign of unity on our journey of freedom from the distances that scandalously separate believers in Christ,” the pope told the Orthodox delegation in the basilica.
Together with the Orthodox metropolitan, Pope Francis descended to the crypt located beneath the high altar to venerate the relics of St. Peter at the end of the Mass.
“We pray for you, for all Pastors, for the Church and for all of us: that, set free by Christ, we may be apostles of freedom throughout the world,” Pope Francis said.