Pallium Mass a celebration of local link to pope

| December 6, 2016 | 0 Comments
Pope Francis holds a tray of palliums during a Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this June 29, 2014, file photo. The pope blessed Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s pallium in June, but the apostolic nuncio will confer it on him Dec. 18. CNS

Pope Francis holds a tray of palliums during a Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this June 29, 2014, file photo. The pope blessed Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s pallium in June, but the apostolic nuncio will confer it on him Dec. 18. CNS

Since July, Archbishop Bernard Hebda has kept a small brown box in his office with something Pope Francis gave him, but he hasn’t yet been able to use. It is his neatly folded pallium — a small vestment used only by archbishops that the pope blessed in Rome June 29, and which the apostolic nuncio will officially confer on him Dec. 18 at a 2:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

The pallium is composed of a narrow band of white wool that drapes over an archbishop’s shoulders and black-tipped lappets that hang down the center of his chest and back. It is embroidered with six black crosses, three of which hold long pins. It signifies an archbishop’s special relationship with the pope and his authority over not only the archdiocese where he serves, but also a larger geographical area — in Archbishop Hebda’s case, all of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, known as the metropolitan province of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The role requires him, as head of what is known in the Church as the “metropolitan archdiocese,” to offer fraternal support to the bishops of the other “suffragan” dioceses and to promote their collaboration, Archbishop Hebda said.

Archbishops only wear the vestment for liturgies within their own province, and they are traditionally buried in it. It is also a vestment particular to an archdiocese; if the pope appoints an archbishop who has already received a pallium to a new archdiocese, he receives a new one. Although Archbishop Hebda was already an archbishop when he was named to St. Paul and Minneapolis, he was never installed in Newark, New Jersey, as the sitting archbishop had yet to retire, so he has never received a pallium before.

While the archbishop’s installation Mass May 13 turned the spotlight on him, the pallium conferral is a celebration of the archdiocese, Archbishop Hebda said. Attending the Mass will be delegations, including bishops, from the province’s other dioceses: Bismarck, Crookston, Duluth, Fargo, New Ulm, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, St. Cloud and Winona.

Before 2015, the pope typically conferred the pallium on new archbishops in Rome on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Last year, the pope asked that archbishops officially receive their palliums in their home archdioceses among the faithful they pastor. They are still invited to the Vatican to witness their blessing, and Archbishop Hebda and some family members attended the special Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica this year.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., will confer the pallium on Archbishop Hebda on behalf of Pope Francis at the beginning of the Mass; the rest of the liturgy will follow the order for the fourth Sunday in Advent, said Father John Paul Erickson, the archdiocese’s director of worship.

Archbishop Hebda hopes the afternoon Mass will be well attended by the region’s Catholics, as the pallium conferral is “an expression of the bond that we share with the successor of Peter in Rome,” he said. “I’m excited about that visible sign of that communion with Pope Francis.”

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