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THE HISTORY OF THE PALL
The subject of the pall is an important one in the history of our English Church. This ecclesiastical ornament was assuming a new meaning at the period of which we are writing; and the gift of it to Augustine seems the very point at which that new significance was definitely attached to it by the See of Rome, which lasted throughout the mediæval period of the Church's history. It is quite worth while to bestow some time and pains upon it.
About the time of Augustus, the toga, which had formed the usual upper garment of a Roman, was superseded in general use by the pallium. The pallium was a large oblong piece of woollen fabric, like the robe which some races as the North American Indians, and the native tribes of South Africa—still wear as their ordinary outer garment; not unlike the plaid the Gaelic inhabitants of the northern part of our own island still use.
It was worn in various ways. Sometimes it was put round the neck, and fastened at the shoulder by a brooch or pin; sometimes passed over the left shoulder, drawn behind the back under the right arm, leaving it at liberty for use, and thrown again over the left shoulder, covering the left arm; sometimes, when it was not needed for warmth or shelter, it was folded twice or thrice lengthwise, and thrown over the shoulder. A man permanently engaged in active occupation would lay aside his pallium altogether. In the old time the officials of the State were distinguished by an embroidered toga—toga picta, and when the pallium came into general use, an embroidered pallium equally marked out the officials of the Empire.
But the pallium also went out of fashion in its turn, and was succeeded by the planeta, a square of woollen material with a slit in the middle, through which the head was passed, and the garment fell in natural folds round the person.
It still survives in Spanish South America under the names of poncho and serapé.
About the same time the dalmatic came into use, a garment shaped and fitted to the person, like a short and broad tunic, with short, wide sleeves.
But officialism would no longer follow the vagaries of fashion; a civic dignitary still wore the pallium as a badge of office; only the pall was reduced to its embroidered hem ; it was now a long narrow slip of embroidered material, which was worn in a peculiar way about the shoulders. John the Deacon describes it minutely, as it was worn by Bishop Gregory. It was brought round from the right shoulder under the breast, reaching down to the stomach, then up by the left shoulder and thrown behind the back; while the other end, coming over the same shoulder, hung by its own weight down the left side. This exactly describes the pall, as we see it represented in the mosaics of the sixth and later centuries at Rome and Ravenna. This way of wearing the pall was a preservation of the folds into which the embroidered hem of the old pallium used to fall when it was an actual garment, and continued in use down to the tenth century. About that time the pall was for convenience made up in a large circle, which passed round the shoulders, with two straight pieces sewn on so as to hang down before and behind. It was a much less graceful, but no doubt a much more convenient arrangement, and this continued to be the form of the pall throughout the Middle Ages, and indeed down to the present time.
But how came Bishop Gregory to wear it? The Emperors had been accustomed to give honorary distinctions to those whom they desired to distinguish or to conciliate. In the decay of the Empire, they had conferred the title of Consul and Patrician, not only upon distinguished Romans, but upon Barbarian kings and chiefs; they had bestowed the pallium upon lesser people of various kinds.
The Bishop of Rome wore it, either by right as a member of the magistracy of Rome, or it had been granted to the See by some early Emperor. We are told that it was made of byssus, fine flax, or linen, and it appears probable that he wore it on all State occasions. The Bishops of Ravenna also claimed to wear it, by right of a decree from Valentinian-a great benefactor to the Church of Ravenna—and also to wear it on all State occasions. For in the time of Bishop John, Gregory endeavoured to restrict his use of the pall to the time of celebration of the divine service; and when the patrician, the prefect, and many other noble citizens of Ravenna interposed to maintain the privileges of their city, Gregory professed to have satisfied himself by inquiry of Adeodatus, formerly a deacon of Ravenna, that it had been. customary for the bishop to wear it only on the occasion of the great “ litanies,” that is, processions; and he compromised the matter by sanctioning its use on the solemnities of St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. Apollinaris (the patron saint of the city), and the anniversary of the bishop's consecration. One of the letters of Gregory to Desiderius, Bishop of Vienne, shows that the bishop of that earliest Church of Gaul had applied for the pall, on the ground that it had been granted to his See in ancient times. That it was the first Christian Church in Gaul, might have been a title to such distinction; Gregory does not dispute the possibility of it, but says that he can find no document relating to it in the record chest (armarium) at Rome, and asks Desiderius to
a search to be made among the records at Vienne.
But how came the Bishops of Rome to confer this distinction upon others ? There is a doubtful case of the gift of the pall by Marcus, Bishop of Rome, to the Bishop of Ostia (the official consecrator of the Bishops of Rome) in 336 A.D. But, putting aside this isolated and doubtful case, the custom of the gift of this honorary distinction by the Bishop of Rome to bishops began in the sixth century, and the first instance of it is by Symmachus to Theodore, Archbishop of Laureatus, in Pannonia in 514 A.D. In 523 A.D., Vigilius deferred giving the pall to Auxanius, Bishop of Arles (the ancient capital of Southern Gaul), till he had the Emperor's consent. In 595, at the request of King Childebert, Gregory sent the
pall to Virgilius of Arles. In 597, in answer to the request of Queen Brunhilda, for the pall to be given to Syagrius, Bishop of Autun, Gregory replies that it cannot be given without the consent of the Emperor.
The explanation is, that the municipal government of Rome retained the great name of the Senate, and affected to retain the ancient rights of that distinguished body, among them that of conferring the honours of the city upon illustrious strangers; and the Emperors and Gothic kings had been in the habit of allowing these reminiscences of bygone greatness. When the Roman territory threw off its dependence upon the distant Emperor of the East, the Senate distributed these honours without asking his permission. A remarkable instance of this was when the Senate conferred the title of Patrician upon Pepin and his sons; and one still more momentous, when, on Christmas Eve of 800 A.D., it assumed to elect Charles as Emperor, and thus to revive the lapsed Empire of the West.
Down to the time of Gregory, the pall was nothing more than a complimentary badge, conferred upon the occupants of some of the most distinguished Sees. Gregory was the first who began to make it a distinctive badge of a Metropolitan, though it was still — down to the present day—sometimes conferred on very distinguished Sees which were not Metropolitan. When Pepin had endowed Rome with his Lombard conquests, and freed it from subjection to the Eastern Emperor, the Popes granted the pall on their own sole authority.
Very soon the conferring of this and similar honours was made use of to help to build up the