A busy, busy bishop

Our new diocesan Bishop, Archbishop Mark O’Toole is having a busy time. On Monday he was installed as our archbishop here in Cardiff. Then on Thursday he was installed as Bishop of Menevia at Swansea’s St Joseph’s Cathedral. In between he managed to have his own birthday (59, since you ask). Next, on Monday he flies out to Rome to receive his pallium.

His what, you ask? The pallium is the symbol of an archbishop as opposed to other bishops. It is a band of woven wool placed over his shoulders and looking rather like a letter ’y’ hanging in front and behind. It is decorated with six crosses and some ornate pins.

The pallium is made from lambs whose fleeces are presented by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes outside the Walls, one of the ancient churches of Rome. The fleeces then pass to the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in the beautiful and lively Trastevere area of Rome, who weave their wool into the pallia. Both these churches preserve the remains of their saints. The finished pallia are then kept in a casket placed directly at the tomb of St Peter under the main altar at St Peter’s in the Vatican until they are presented to new archbishops. In modern times this is done at the time of the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, June 29.

So that is why Archbishop Mark is taking off for Rome on Monday. The Pope’s nuncio will invest him with it in the near future. Getting back from Rome, the archbishop gets down to business. Things I am aware of from his no doubt filling diary include 6 July, when he is meeting us canons / consultors, 21 July when he is meeting all the clergy – and 22 July when he comes to us for our Confirmations!

Fr Matthew