You’ve probably seen it, but perhaps you didn’t even know what it was called: the “pallium”.
Per Catholic Encyclopedia, a definition:
The modern pallium is a circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind. The pendants are about two inches wide and twelve inches long, and are weighted with small pieces of lead covered with black silk. The remainder of the pallium is made of white wool, part of which is supplied by two lambs presented annually as a tax by the Lateran Canons Regular to the Chapter of St. John on the feast of St. Agnes, solemnly blessed on the high altar of that church after the pontifical Mass, and then offered to the pope. The ornamentation of the pallium consists of six small black crosses — one each on the breast and back, one on each shoulder, and one on each pendant. The crosses on the breast, back, and left shoulder are provided with a loop for the reception of a gold pin set with a precious stone. The pallium is worn over the chasuble. The use of the pallium is reserved to the pope and archbishops, but the latter may not use it until, on petition they have received the permission of the Holy See. Read more...
Next time you see an Archbishop, pay attention to his vestments and note the pallium. In light of Pope Francis’ remarks this week about the type of Bishop-candidates he seeks, it would seem that today’s pallium is definitively a mark of service to the Church and her faithful:
Candidates must be real pastors and shepherds, he said, able to watch over their flock, keep them united, protect them from danger and, especially, nourish their hope, “sustaining with love and patience the plans that God is working within his people.” “Shepherds need to be in front of their flocks to indicate the path, in the midst of the flock to keep them united, behind the flock to make sure none is left behind,” the pope said.
A question for you: Does your shepherd wear the pallium?