Pallium, Or Palla, an outer garment worn by both sexes among the Greeks, and occasionally among the Romans. It was a square or rectangular piece of woollen, linen, or cotton cloth, varying in color, texture, and ornament, and was sometimes merely wrapped around the body without regard to grace or appearance, sometimes fastened over the right shoulder with a brooch, and sometimes thrown over the left shoulder, brought across the back and under the right arm, and then thrown over the left shoulder again. The women's pallium was generally of a finer texture and more elaborate ornamentation than the men's; and the fops of ancient Athens used not unfrequently to array themselves in this effeminate costume. The pallium among the Greeks supplied the place of the toga among the Romans. - Pallium is also the name of an ecclesiastical ornament in the Roman Catholic church, reserved to archbishops who are not merely titular, and to bishops who are the occupants of privileged sees, or on whom. it is bestowed as a mark of special distinction. It was originally a sort of mantle or cape, but at present it consists only of a white woollen band about 2 in. wide, which is worn around the shoulders and crossed in front. Crosses are worked upon it in black, and ornaments are attached to the ends.
It is fastened by golden pins. The pallium is made at Rome of the wool shorn from two lambs which the sisterhood of Santa Agnese on the via Nomentana offer every year on their patronal feast while the Agnus Dei is sung at mass. It is sent by the pope to every newly appointed archbishop, and is considered the distinctive badge of the metropolitan dignity. The origin of the pallium as a badge of episcopal preeminence is obscure. The first ecclesiastical document relating to it is a constitution of Pope St. Mark (who died in 336) prescribing that the bishop of Ostia should wear the pallium when officiating as conse-crator of a pope elect. The most ancient example of the pallium in monumental history is from the sarcophagus of St. Celsus, archbishop of Milan, who died in the 4th century; his pallium bears a single cross. A mosaic of the 8th century represents St. Peter bestowing on Pope St. Leo a pallium with one cross, and differing but little in shape from that in use at present. At the council of Lateran in 1215 Pope Innocent III. decreed it to be a mark of the plenitude of the apostolic power, and that no archbishop should exercise his functions until he had received it.