Pope Francis explained that both Peter and Paul experienced the liberating power of Christ before being entrusted with the mission to proclaim the Gospel.
“Let us take a closer look at these two witnesses of faith,” he said. “At the heart of their story is not their own gifts and abilities, but the encounter with Christ that changed their lives. They experienced a love that healed them and set them free. They then became apostles and ministers of freedom for others.”
“Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, was set free above all from his sense of inadequacy and his bitter experience of failure, thanks to the unconditional love of Jesus,” the pope explained, while Paul, then known as Saul, “was set free from the most oppressive form of slavery, which is slavery to self.”
After converting from his life as “a cruel persecutor of Christians,” Paul came to “realize that ‘God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27), that we can do all things through him who strengthens us, and that nothing can ever separate us from his love,” the pope said, quoting Paul’s letters.
At the beginning of the livestreamed Mass, the pope blessed the “palliums,” the white woolen vestments adorned with six black silk crosses that are given to each new metropolitan archbishop. These were made with wool woven by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, and were kept near the tomb of St. Peter.
The tradition of the pallium dates back to at least the fifth century. Metropolitan archbishops wear the pallium as a symbol of authority and unity with the Holy See. It serves as a sign of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese, as well as the other particular dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.
The new metropolitan archbishops of Manila, Dublin, Lyon, Seville, Naples, and Hyderabad are among the 34 archbishops who will receive the palliums blessed today by the pope.