By: Sr. Elizabeth Worley, S.S.J.
At today’s Mass celebrating the martyrdom of the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, held in St. Peter’s Basilica, built on top of the earthly remains of the apostle, Peter, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass for thousands of pilgrims from around the world. During the Mass, 38 newly appointed Archbishops from Asia and Africa, Europe, and the Americas, including Archbishop Thomas Wenski, now Archbishop of Miami, promised faithful obedience to the Holy Father, the successor of Peter. In turn the Holy Father conferred on each the pallium, a small white vestment of lamb’s wool symbolizing the unity of the Metropolitan Archbishops with the Holy Father in his service to the Church.
The pallia, kept below the altar, resting on the tomb of St. Peter, are brought up to the Holy Father during the Mass. He in turn places the pallium on the shoulders of each Archbishop. This symbolizes the role of the Holy Father as successor of Peter, and the Archbishops, in union with him, as successors to the apostles and their mission and authority to preach the Gospel of Jesus.
Today, all nations were well represented, in this most moving of ceremonies. Receiving the pallia with great joy, the Archbishops responded with a pledge of faithful obedience to the Holy Father and service to the Gospel. Those of us privileged to be present offered our prayers of support and gratitude for the gift of service of each of the archbishops, who like Peter and Paul, are willing to spend their lives for those they serve.