What is that?

By Catholic New World
Sunday, November 16, 2014

In its more than 2,000-year history, the Catholic faith has picked up traditions and symbols filled with meaning and history. However, sometimes they can be confusing to understand or keep straight. The Catholic New World picked a few things to define.



An archbishop is the title borne by a bishop with authority over an archdiocese. He thus has full jurisdiction over his own diocese, but he may also be a metropolitan over an ecclesiastical province. Some archbishops are also considered ad personam, meaning that they hold the title without authority over an archdiocese as an honor bestowed upon them by the pope. Editor's note: both bishops and archbishops wear purple stoles, fascia, zucchettos and capes. (Catholic Encyclopedia) At left is San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.


The cathedra is the chair or throne (thronos) of a bishop in his cathedral church, on which he presides at solemn functions. During the early centuries of Christianity it was customary for the bishop to deliver his sermon or homily while seated in his chair facing the congregation, but in the great basilicas of the Constantinian era, as well as subsequently, this arrangement became impracticable (Catholic Encyclopedia). The bishop's chair at Holy Name Cathedral features bronze depictions of Jesus the teacher (center panel), St. Peter holding keys to the kingdom (left panel) and St. Paul with a sword (right panel).


A pallium is a band of white wool worn over the shoulders by all metropolitan archbishops and the pope. The pallium is decorated with six black crosses and is made from the wool of two lambs blessed in the Church of St. Agnes in Rome. It is a symbol of union with the Holy See. Pope John Paul I was invested with the pallium at his installation in 1978 and Pope John Paul II adopted this custom.

Editor's note: Archbishop Cupich will receive the pallium for the Archdiocese of Chicago during a ceremony at the Vatican on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The pallium belongs to the archdiocese, not the archbishop. For example, when Cardinal George was installed as the archbishop of Chicago in 1997, he received a new pallium despite having received one for the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, in 1996. The pallium is buried with the archbishop when he dies.


The galero is traditionally received upon elevation to the College of Cardinals. Although the actual galero is no longer bestowed during the consistory in which cardinals are created (the cardinals receive a red biretta), the red galero, with its 15 tassels on either side, is added to the new cardinal's coat of arms. When a cardinal dies, his galero is hung above the crypt of his home cathedral and stays there until it disintegrates. Holy Name Cathedral has five galeros hanging above the sanctuary. An archbishop's coat of arms features a green galero with 10 tassels on each side. (The Church Visible)


A bishop is the highest order of the ministries of holy orders, a successor to the Apostles. The bishop is a cleric who has attained the fullness of the priesthood and who possesses the power to administer all of the sacraments, including ordination. He has the authority to administer a diocese and is under the direct responsibility of the pope. Editor's note: both bishops and archbishops wear purple stoles, fascia (also known as the sash or cincture), zucchettos and capes. (Catholic Encyclopedia). It should be noted that in Roman Catholic vesture, "purple" is a color that most modern observers would say is more fuchsia or magenta. (The Church Visible).


A cardinal is a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals and a high-ranking, powerful member of the church hierarchy. He gives assistance to the pope in the government of the church and has the important task of taking part in the election of a new successor of St. Peter. By canon law, all cardinals must be ordained priests; those who are not bishops at the time of their elevation are consecrated to the episcopacy. (Catholic Encyclopedia) Editor's note: Cardinals wear red stoles, zucchettos, birettas, etc. The red signifies their willingness to shed their blood for the church. By custom, Archbishop Cupich will not be eligible to become a cardinal until Cardinal George turns 80 or passes away. At that point it is up to the Holy Father to name him a cardinal. It is not guaranteed.