Pallia, Introduction

3 November 2011

Of the vestments of the clergy, the pallium (omophorion), the oldest to be distinctive of rank, is mentioned as early as the 5th century. It consists of a broad band of white silk material with large embroidered crosses sewn on to it at intervals (appliqués), a circular decoration at the neck, the ‘polos’ (appliqué) (usually with a depiction of Christ as the Great High Priest), and two band-shaped appliqués, the ‘potamoi’ at the two ends, on which liturgical and dedicatory inscriptions are usually embroidered. The large pallium with four crosses is worn until the moment of the reading of the Gospel. The small one, with only two crosses, replaced the large one as the latter was inconvenient to wear at ordinations and the ministering of other sacraments. In the Divine Liturgy, the bishop wears it from the Hymn of the Cherubim onwards. The three large pallia of the Vatopedi Monastery have on the polos of the neck the Good Shepherd and the sheep and on the appliqués the Evangelists and their symbols. The Arabic one has scenes from the Passion of Christ.