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Pallium \Pal"li*um\, n.; pl. L. Pallia, E. Palliums. [L. See Pall the garment.]

  1. (Anc. Costume) A large, square, woolen cloak which enveloped the whole person, worn by the Greeks and by certain Romans. It is the Roman name of a Greek garment.

  2. (R. C. Ch.) A band of white wool, worn on the shoulders, with four purple crosses worked on it; a pall.

    Note: The wool is obtained from two lambs brought to the basilica of St. Agnes, Rome, and blessed. It is worn by the pope, and sent to patriarchs, primates, and archbishops, as a sign that they share in the plenitude of the episcopal office. Before it is sent, the pallium is laid on the tomb of St. Peter, where it remains all night.

  3. (Zo["o]l.)

    1. The mantle of a bivalve. See Mantle.

    2. The mantle of a bird.


n. 1 A woollen vestment conferred on archbishops by the Pope. 2 (context historical English) A large cloak worn by Greek philosophers and teachers. 3 (context zoology English) The mantle of a mollusc. 4 (context meteorology English) A sheet of cloud covering the whole sky, especially nimbostratus. 5 (context anatomy English) The cerebral cortex.

  1. n. the layer of unmyelinated neurons (the gray matter) forming the cortex of the cerebrum [syn: cerebral cortex, cerebral mantle, cortex]

  2. (zoology) a protective layer of epidermis in mollusks or brachiopods that secretes a substance forming the shell [syn: mantle]

  3. (Roman Catholic Church) vestment consisting of a band encircling the shoulders with two lappets hanging in front and back

  4. cloak or mantle worn by men in ancient Rome

  5. [also: pallia (pl)]


The pallium (derived from the Roman pallium or palla, a woolen cloak; : pallia) is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context it has remained connected to the Papacy.

The pallium, in its present Western form, is a narrow band, "three fingers broad", woven of white lamb's wool from sheep raised by Trappist monks, with a loop in the centre resting on the shoulders over the chasuble and two dependent lappets, before and behind; so that when seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y. It is decorated with six black crosses, one on each tail and four on the loop, is doubled on the left shoulder, and sometimes is garnished, back and front, with three jeweled gold pins. The two latter characteristics seem to be survivals of the time when the Roman pallium was a simple scarf doubled and pinned on the left shoulder.

In origin, the pallium and the omophor are the same vestment. The omophor is a wide band of cloth, much larger than the modern pallium, worn by all Eastern Orthodox bishops and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite. A theory connects its origin with the figure of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb on his shoulders, so common in early Christian art; but this may be an explanation a posteriori. The ceremonial connected with the preparation of the pallium and its bestowal upon the pope at his coronation, however, suggests some such symbolism. The lambs whose wool is destined for the making of the pallia are solemnly presented at the altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes. The Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere later weave the lambs' wool into pallia.

Pallium (disambiguation)

Pallium is a term used for the anatomy of animals including humans, with several different specific meanings. The adjectival form of the word is "pallial".

  • For the Roman cloak, see Pallium (Roman cloak)
  • For the ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church, see pallium
  • For pallium in a neuroanatomy context, see Pallium (neuroanatomy)

In invertebrate zoology "pallium" is:

  • Another word for the mantle of a mollusc
  • An anatomical structure in a brachiopod

The word can also be used to describe:

Pallium (neuroanatomy)

In neuroanatomy, pallium refers to the layers of gray and white matter that cover the upper surface of the cerebrum in vertebrates. The non-pallial part of the telencephalon builds the subpallium. In basal vertebrates the pallium is a relatively simple three-layered structure, encompassing 3-4 histogenetically distinct domains, plus the olfactory bulb. It used to be thought that pallium equals cortex and subpallium equals telencephalic nuclei, but it has turned out, according to comparative evidence provided by molecular markers, that the pallium develops both cortical structures (allocortex and isocortex) and pallial nuclei ( claustroamygdaloid complex), whereas the subpallium develops striatal, pallidal, diagonal-innominate and preoptic nuclei, plus the corticoid structure of the olfactory tuberculum. In mammals, the cortical part of the pallium registers a definite evolutionary step-up in complexity, forming the cerebral cortex, most of which consists of a progressively expanded six-layered portion isocortex, with simpler three-layered cortical regions allocortex at the margins. The allocortex subdivides into hippocampal allocortex, medially, and olfactory allocortex, laterally (including rostrally the olfactory bulb and anterior olfactory areas).

Pallium (Roman cloak)

The pallium (dim: palliolum) was the Roman cloak that was worn by both men and women (called a palla in the latter case). It was a rectangular piece of cloth, square in form, as was the himation in ancient Greece. It is not to be confused with the pallium, in the Catholic Church, which is related to the omophorion.

The pallium, which was considered at first to be exclusively Greek and despised by Romans, was taken into favour by ordinary people, philosophers, and pedagogues, and eventually replaced the toga in the 2nd century BC.

The material of this cloak was usually made of wool or flax, but for the higher classes it could be made of silk with the use of gold threads and embroideries.

The garment varied in fineness, colour and ornament. It could be white, purple red (purpurea from murex), black, yellow, blue, pale green, etc.

It could be used as a blanket, to spread over beds or cover the body during sleep.

In Tertullian's mind, the pallium, which he adopted a toga ad pallium, was the cloak of philosophers and Christians.

Usage examples of "pallium".

Get me the dalmatica and the paenula and the pallium and that silver pectoral, and then help me do something with my hair.

She looked around the room, her eyes lingering briefly on Drosos whose hair was still wet from the baths and who wore turquoise silk and a pallium of silver and lavender.

He stretched and then tugged at the end of his pallium which was wrapped across the segmented links of his old-fashioned loricae.

He had wrapped his pallium around his shoulders and neck as well as over his head so that he would not become drenched during the short walk to the palace.

His pallium was good quality but simple and the slight embroidery was similar to what most other freemen wore.

Panaigios adjusted the drape of his pallium and settled himself more properly in the chair.

Panaigios had taken one of the folds of his pallium in his hands and was running his fingers over the embroidery.

He began by tugging the end of his pallium free and starting the complicated process of unwinding it.

He unwound the last part of his pallium and tossed it aside into a disordered heap.

Ghornan pulled the coins from the folds of the narrow pallium wound around his waist.

Kimon Athanatadies emerged from his chapel some while later, his dusty dalmatica and disarranged pallium revealing that he had spent part of his time at prayers prostrate.

Athanatadies had folded his arms, although his wide, gold-embroidered pallium shoved his arms upward when he did.

His fingers moved almost constantly, now at his pallium, now at the hem of his sleeves, now at the large, pearl-encrusted cross he wore around his neck.

His pallium was wrapped beltlike around his waist and knotted once without artistry.

Athanatadies emerged from his chapel some while later, his dusty dalmatica and disarranged pallium revealing that he had spent part of his time at prayers prostrate.