This morning the Pope conferred on 40+ archbishops, the Pallium. The vestment in its current form the a wool circle three fingers wide, with a small strip that hangs down in back and front, marked by 6 crosses.
Each year on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, those who have been named Archbishop in the last year gather for Mass at St. Peter's to receive this, the sign of their role as the archbishop of a province. For example, St. Patrick's Parish, is in the Diocese of Richmond which is part of the Province of Baltimore. As a matter of fact ourArchbishop William Lori received his pallium this morning.
Traditionally on the Feast of St. Agnes (Jan 21) the lambs whose wool will be used are blessed. The pallia are them placed overnight (last night) in a silver box in the confessio ( the area under the altar closest to the tomb of St. Peter). The wool pallium has a variety of meanings. Among them the wool, like the bishop's crozier is a constant reminder that the heart of the ministry is always pastoral, shepherding the people of God, tending. This morning Pope Francis focused them on confirming: confirming in faith, confirming in love, confirming in unity.
Ultimately he called the new archbishops and in a sense all of us :
To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity.