Full Video of the Episcopal Ordination of Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

On Monday, 6 October 2014, on the feast of St. Bruno, by the grace and authority of the Apostolic See and the Successor of St. Peter, through Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia,  Fr. Julian Leow Beng Kim was ordained to the episcopal order by Metropolitan Archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock of Kuching, after he was appointed as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur on 3 July 2014.

The episcopal ordination took place at the Church of the Holy Family at Kajang, Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.


Metropolitan Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim is the fourth Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, and as the shepherd of the largest diocese in Malaysia and the diocese of the capital city, he is also unofficially the Primate of Malaysia. He has as his suffragan bishops, the Bishops of Penang and Melaka-Johor.


We wish Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim all the best in his new calling as the shepherd of souls in Kuala Lumpur. May he remain faithful and devoted to the orthodox and pure teachings of the Faith and the Church, making no compromises against the forces of darkness arrayed against the Church even as we speak today. May he also be devoted to the sheep he had been entrusted to, and lead them to the true, unblemished and orthodox faith. Amen.

My personal thoughts on the election of Pope Francis I and the current state of the Church

I can only hope that Msgr. Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations (Papal MC) can indeed stay where he is, as many uttered their concern whether he will still stay as papal MC given the apparent change in this new Pope.

As this is just the first day, I do not know much yet about the direction that our new Pope, Francis I, will bring us all, but I hope that he will not overemphasize inculturation and liberation for the sake of evangelisation, as what was once done under Archbishop Marini, the previous papal MC, but rather focus and renew the spirit of the liturgy as was done by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was Pope, with the help of Monsignor Marini as the chief liturgical reformer.

There is a need to balance between tradition and innovation, and not to tilt too far to the other side. Already these past few years we had seen a great rebound in the number of seminarians joining the seminary, and also the growing accustomisation among many people all over the world of the use of Latin in the Mass, despite of course emphasis remaining on the vernacular language.

Already, many apparently made comments (as I do) on his choice of not wearing the mozzetta and the stole upon making his first appearance, despite the proper winter papal mozzetta had been prepared for the new Pope. These are little things, but I hope this won’t be a precedent, which if not carefully handled, may undo many of the great things and reforms of the reform of Vatican II that had been painstakingly done in the past few years, and have begun to bear fruit in the Church today.

Balance is important. Already we have seen in many cases after Vatican II, churches and groups going too far towards innovation and liberal thoughts that ended up losing their very Catholic identity. What we need is to preserve our tradition, and yet remain open for innovations that can help new evangelisation, and evangelisation must also be carried in the spirit of the preservation of Apostolic teachings and traditions, and not conform to what the world think, that is relativism.

Social media like twitter, Facebook, blogs, and many others are these great innovations that can help spread the teachings of the Church, and yet let us not be like many Catholics, particularly in the USA, which had been commented as being ‘market Catholics’ where they pick and choose what they want to believe in, as long as it suits them, and reject those that they feel don’t fit with them. No, to be a Catholic means accepting the whole teaching as a whole, and not taking just those parts that you like, and discard the rest.

I need to add that going into extremes into the other direction is also abhorred, as what was made obvious by the SSPX Society, which continued to linger in their ultra-conservatism, and refused to take in several important modifications made by Vatican II.

Just some examples : We no longer blame Jews for the death of Christ, and instead they are our elder brothers in faith, having been chosen and called by God first among all nations.

Then, although indeed I firmly believe in salvation only through the One Church of Christ, but I also believe in the Universal Call to Holiness (by Blessed Pope John Paul II), and there are righteous people outside the Church, who do God’s will, but lacking only the necessary faith in Christ, but that doesn’t mean that they are immediately condemned to hell for that. It is our task to bring the Good News and salvation to them, which can be done through new evangelisation, rooted firmly in tradition and prayer.

However, one wish that I want to make is that, I hope Pope Francis I can thoroughly reform the Roman Curia, to purge from it all ties to corruptions and evil, and to purify our Holy Church that it will once again be immaculate and pure as it should always be, as the One, and only Church God had established in this world, through Peter the Apostle.

And I am touched by his selection of name, Francis, which honoured both St. Francis of Assisi, whom I held in high regard, and St. Francis Xavier, the great missionary and co-founder of the Jesuits (with St. Ignatius Loyola) whom Pope Francis I is a member of. St. Francis Xavier is close to my heart as he is also the patron saint of my early education, and which helped me to learn about the faith, and eventually welcomed into the Church.

I am also deeply touched by his humility, especially when he asked that the people pray for him, and even bowed down to show his humility, which does remind me to another Pope, John Paul I, whose motto is Humilitas, but as history went, he did not have the time to accomplish much. Therefore I hope, the legacy of Pope John Paul I can be continued in Pope Francis I, who had the same quality and personality as Pope John Paul I.

However, humility and simplicity must not lead to the simplification of our faith, but rather let these be tools to further deepen our ties to our faith, and understand more about it.

I noted that Pope Francis I is deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary, whose name is part of his personal name, Jorge Maria Bergoglio. He will be another Marian Pope in the likelihood of Blessed Pope John Paul II. It is important for us to have a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary, as she is the best helper that we can have, in guiding our way towards the Lord, and ensuring that we do not go astray from our path.

May God bless our new Pope Francis I, and at this important juncture at the beginning of the new Pontificate, I hope that the Holy Spirit that has elected him to carry this task, will also guide him, that he will make correct choices that will continue the good works that began with Blessed Pope John Paul II, and was accelerated by Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus.

My Guide to the Papal Conclave : Part III (From the election of the new Pope to the Urbi et Orbi blessing by the new Pope)

Part II here : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2013/03/09/my-guide-to-the-papal-conclave-part-ii-from-the-beginning-to-the-election-of-the-new-pope/


1. After the new Pope had accepted his election as Pope and leader of the Roman Catholic Church, there are several scenarios :


a. If he is already a bishop : The new Pope will immediately be the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Universal Church, the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle. Then he will immediately accept the homage of the Cardinal-electors gathered in the Conclave, after he changes his cardinal’s robes for the new, white papal robes in the Room of Tears.

b. If he is not yet a bishop : The new Pope will need to be immediately ordained a bishop following the proper order of the Ordination of bishops, and the senior Cardinal Bishop by seniority in the Conclave should be the principal consecrator. The new Pope can only receive homage of the Cardinals after his ordination to the episcopate (after he had been ordained a bishop).


2. The new Pope then leaves the Sistine Chapel main hall where the voting took place, into the special ‘Room of Tears’, where three sets of differently-sized white papal robes had been prepared for him to adjust to his size. The new Pope changes from his cardinal’s red robes into the white papal robes and then return to the main hall of the Sistine Chapel.


3. The new Pope, after dressed in the white papal robes (with the red mozzetta and the large state stole) will then receive the homage of all the Cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel.


4. New addition in 2013 Conclave : After the homage, the new Pope will proceed with all the Cardinal-electors from the Sistine Chapel to the Pauline Chapel. The new Pope will enter the Pauline Chapel alone, and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.


5. In the meanwhile, the most senior Cardinal in the order of deacons, that is the Cardinal Protodeacon (Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran for the 2013 conclave) will then appear at the Loggia or the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to deliver the announcement of the election of a new Pope.


The formula :

The Cardinal Protodeacon will first greet the assembled people in St. Peter’s Square and throughout the world (done in 2005 conclave in different languages) :

1. Italian : Fratelli e sorelle carissimi

2. Spanish : Queridísimos hermanos y hermanas

3. French : Bien chers frères et sœurs

4. German : Liebe Brüder und Schwestern

5. English : Dear brothers and sisters


Then he continues :

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum

I announce to you a great joy


Habemus Papam!

We have a Pope!


Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum

The most eminent and reverend Lord


Dominum (New Pope’s first name/baptismal name) Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem (New Pope’s surname)

Lord (New Pope’s first name/baptismal name) Cardinal (New Pope’s surname) of the Holy Roman Church


Qui sibi nomen imposuit (New Pope’s chosen regnal name and number)

Who takes for himself the name of (New Pope’s chosen regnal name and number)


5. After this, after a moment, the new Pope, led by a processional crucifix, made his appearance at the same balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. He then may deliver his first address as Pope to the people gathered at the Square, and to the world.


6. After the address, then the new Pope will give his Urbi et Orbi special blessing (For the city of Rome (Urbi) and the world (Orbi)), with which is attached plenary indulgence, that is the forgiveness of all temporal sins, providing the people participates in full faith and repentance.


The text of the Urbi et Orbi blessing (Latin):

Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.


Precibus et meritis beatæ Mariae semper Virginis, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Ioannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus; et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Iesus Christus ad vitam æternam.


Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiæ, cor semper penitens, et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus; et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.


Et benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti descendat super vos et maneat semper.



Text of Urbi et Orbi blessing (English)

May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we have confidence, intercede on our behalf to the Lord.


Through the prayers and merits of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of Blessed John the Baptist, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, may Almighty God have mercy on you, and with your sins forgiven, may Jesus Christ lead you into everlasting life.


May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works.


And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always.



7. Then the new Pope takes his leave of the people, and return inside St. Peter’s Basilica. The long process of electing a new Pope is over, and the new Pope is now in charge in leading God’s Church in his given mission as the Successor of St. Peter the Apostle.


8. The Papal Inauguration Mass will take place several days after the election (does not have to be on a Sunday), to allow for the foreign dignitaries invited to the event to be able to arrive, to attend the Papal Inauguration Mass. The new Pope will receive his signs of office in this Inauguration, namely, the pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman. The Papal Inauguration most likely will take place at St. Peter’s Square.


9. The new Pope will take possession of his Cathedral, in an enthronement ceremony at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome (The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, and contrary to popular perceptions, St. Peter’s Basilica is not a Cathedral). The Cathedral of Rome is the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

Complete name (Latin) : Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris et Sanctorum Ioannes Baptista et Evangelista in Laterano, Omnium urbis et orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput

Complete name (English) : Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint John the Evangelist in Lateran, Head and Mother Church of All the City and the Whole World

My Guide to the Papal Conclave : Part I (From before the Conclave to its beginning)

What will happen inside the Conclave, from before the Cardinal-electors enter the Sistine Chapel and be sealed from the outside world, until a new Pope had been elected? Follow the proceedings of the Conclave step-by-step as I explained them here in three parts (Part I, Part II, and Part III) :


1. Before the Conclave, the Cardinals gather in the General Congregations, or meetings where they will raise issues and discuss these matters pertaining to the Church, its governance, and many other matters they may want to bring up to attention to the whole College of Cardinals.

Of great importance is also the necessary and wanted qualities in the next Pope, which will therefore allow the Cardinals to make an informed decision on who to elect. Then finally, the General Congregation also decides the date of the Conclave, when they will actually enter the Sistine Chapel and begin the Conclave officially.

The Conclave can begin only after 15 days of the vacancy of the Apostolic See, but must not begin later than 20 days after the vacancy according to the rules governing the Conclave as written in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis. However, the provision provided by the Motu Proprio Normas Nonnullas allow the Cardinals to begin the Conclave less than 15 days from the date when the Apostolic See became vacant, providing that all the Cardinal-electors that will take part in the Conclave had all arrived in Rome by then.

The Cardinal-electors will also be assigned their rooms in their residence throughout the Conclave period, the Domus Sancta Marthae by the means of random lots.


2. Particular Congregations also meet during this period before the Conclave, led by Cardinal leaders elected every 3 days, to discuss issues within specific groups within the College of Cardinals, and to complement the General Congregation meetings.

Unlike the General Congregation meeting which can be attended by Cardinal-electors and non-electors (those above the age of 80) alike, Particular Congregations are only attended by Cardinal-electors, and unlike General Congregation which meets before the Conclave, the Particular Congregations continue into the Conclave.


3. Before the Conclave begins, the Cardinals gather and celebrate together the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff or the Missa pro Eligendo Pontifice in St. Peter’s Basilica, to pray for the successful election of the new Pope in the Conclave.


4. Then the Cardinals gather in the Pauline Chapel just before the start of the Conclave in complete choir dress (biretta and mozzetta), and then lead by the Cardinal Dean of the College of Cardinals (currently Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is a non-elector, and therefore he will not join the Conclave after that) or the most senior Cardinal Bishop who is an elector (Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re), they proceed into the Sistine Chapel while singing together the Hymn Veni Creator Spirit, to invoke the Holy Spirit, and also the Litany of the Saints to ask the prayer from the holy Saints of God on the Cardinal-electors in the election of the new Pope.

The Cardinals will proceed in reverse order of precedence, beginning with the most junior Cardinal Deacon, to the most senior Cardinal Deacon, and then the most junior Cardinal Priest, and to the most senior Cardinal Priest, and then the most junior Cardinal Bishop to the most senior Cardinal Bishop. The last will be the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations (Monsignor Guido Marini) and the Cardinal Dean (In 2013 conclave, as the Cardinal Dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano is over 80 and thus is not an elector, he was replaced with the most senior Cardinal Bishop who is an elector, in this case, Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re).


5. Once in the Sistine Chapel, the Cardinal-Dean or the senior Cardinal Bishop-elector will then read out aloud the oath that all the Cardinals have to take, according to the formula written in the Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, and with the modifications made by the Motu Proprio Normas Nonnullas, all the other personnels involved in the Conclave, and sealed inside the Conclave also have to take the same oath. Then the Cardinal-electors by their order of precedence, march one by one to an open Book of the Gospels, to make the oath by touching their hands on the Gospels and solemnly vow to keep the oath.


The oath in Latin :

Ego N. N. promitto et iuro me inviolate servaturum esse secretum absolutum cum omnibus quotquot participes non sunt Collegii Cardinalium electorum, hoc quidem in perpetuum, nisi mihi datur expresse peculiaris facultas a novo Pontifice electo eiusve Successoribus, in omnibus quae directe vel indirecte respiciunt suffragia et scrutinia ad novum Pontificem eligendum.

Itemque promitto et iuro me nullo modo in Conclavi usurum esse instrumentis quibuslibet ad vocem transmittendam vel recipiendam aut ad imagines exprimendas quovis modo aptis de iis quae tempore electionis fiunt intra fines Civitatis Vaticanae, atque praecipue de iis quae quolibet modo directe vel indirecte attinent ad negotia coniuncta cum ipsa electione. Declaro me editurum esse ius iurandum utpote qui plane noverim quamlibet eius violationem adducturam esse excommunicationis mihi poenam latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatae.

Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia, quae manu mea tango.

The oath in English :

I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.

I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.

I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will incur the penalty of automatic (‘latae sententiae’) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.

6. After all the Cardinal-electors and the personnel locked inside the Conclave had taken their oath, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations (Monsignor Guido Marini) will stand at the door of the Sistine Chapel, and all the people not sealed in the Conclave are asked to leave, with the traditional pronouncement, “extra omnes” that means “All/Everybody else, out!”


7. The Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, Monsignor Marini will stay behind for a while, while the second meditation is delivered by the ecclesiastic chosen to do so (Cardinal Prosper Grech, Cardinal non-elector from Malta) to the Cardinal-electors.

After the second meditation is completed, both the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations and the ecclesiastic will leave the Sistine Chapel, and the Conclave will officially begin, and the Sistine Chapel closed off to all except the Cardinal-electors and those sealed with them during the duration of the Conclave.


Continue to Part II here : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2013/03/09/my-guide-to-the-papal-conclave-part-ii-from-the-beginning-to-the-election-of-the-new-pope/

Pope Benedict XVI after retirement : What will he wear and how to address him


Pope Benedict XVI, after his retirement at 8.00 pm on Thursday, 28 February 2013, will be known as the Bishop Emeritus of Rome, and therefore can be addressed as such, as His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, or Roman Pontiff Emeritus.

Pope Benedict XVI will also abandon his red papal shoes and wear a brown shoes given to him at Leon, Mexico, and he will also wear a white cassock as he wear now, but without the shoulder cape or more appropriately known as the pellegrini (not mozzetta as mentioned here, as mozzetta is of a very different type, and red in colour for Popes).

He will also wear the Episcopal ring he had from the time when he was Cardinal Ratzinger (given by Pope Paul VI in 1977), as the Ring of the Fisherman he received in 2005 will be destroyed, similar to what happened when a Pope passed away.

Episcopal Ordination of Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, Part II : The office of Bishop, what they wear, and their significance

Continuing from the first part, in which I elaborated on the Episcopal Ordination ceremony itself, let us now take a look at the office of the Episcopate itself, that is of a bishop. One may ask, who is a bishop? Bishops are ‘overseers’, which came from the Greek word, Episkopos, which means overseers, as in the early Church, there are those appointed to succeed the Apostles and oversee the Christian communities, to care for them like shepherds care for their flocks of sheep.

Such was the origin of the episcopate, with bishops as those appointed in positions of authority and with oversight over the laity and the religious alike, to keep them faithful to God, and united to the successor of the blessed Apostle Peter, who is our Pope.



This development of the early Church eventually become an office on its own, a separate level from the priesthood, as in the episcopate, there is a fulfillment and completion of the holy orders, which is symbolised by the bishop wearing both the deacon’s dalmatic, and the priest’s chasuble over the dalmatic. This symbolises the union of the ministry of the diaconate and the priesthood in the person of the bishop, who represents the completion of holy orders.

Cardinals and Popes are not separate orders on their own, unlike the diaconate, priesthood, and the episcopate, as these are just different types of bishops, with Cardinals usually being bishops from important dioceses/archdioceses in the world, and the officials of the Roman Curia (the body governing the Universal Church), and the Pope, being the Bishop of Rome, is still a bishop, but is preeminent due to him being the successor of the Apostle Peter, to whom Christ entrusted His Church, and thus the Pope becomes the very Vicar of Christ in this world.


There are also many types of bishops, which I will elaborate further below :


1. Diocesan bishops : These are the ordinary bishops, who head a diocese. A diocese is a division of the Church in a certain geographical area consisting of the faithful in Christ, who may share same culture, language, and customs, or may be of diverse linguistic and cultural origins.


2. Archbishops : These are the bishops who head a more important diocese, either by location, or by history, or by some other reasons. These dioceses therefore are also correspondingly named archdioceses. There are two types of archdioceses :

          a. Metropolitan Archdiocese : An archdiocese that has an overseer status over one or more other dioceses (called suffragan dioceses or suffragan sees) which are grouped together into an Ecclesiastical Province (or Province of the Church), and headed by a Metropolitan Archbishop, whose distinguishing feature is that he wears a pallium (a woolen shoulder band with black crosses).

          b. Archdioceses (directly subject) : These Archdioceses are important dioceses which has either been historically a metropolitan see or diocese that were elevated to an archdiocese status, but these are not overseeing any dioceses under them, and therefore stand alone on its own, directly subject to the Holy See, to the Pope, instead of through a Metropolitan. The Archdiocese of Singapore is of this type.


3. Auxiliary bishops : These are ‘helper’ bishops, who are appointed in larger dioceses/archdioceses to help with the administration of the diocese/archdiocese’s large Catholic population. May also succeed the diocesan bishop/archbishop upon retirement if selected by the Pope, but this succession is not automatic (not like that of a coadjutor). They are given titular see (diocese/archdiocese) upon their appointment as auxiliary bishop.


4. Coadjutor Archbishops/Bishops : These are bishops/archbishops appointed to dioceses/archdioceses to succeed the diocesan bishop/archbishop, whose age may be nearing 75 or in ill health. Bishops have to submit their resignation to the Pope upon reaching the age of 75, so the appointment of a coadjutor is a way to ensure that the diocese does not become vacant if the diocesan bishop resigns, and is a good way to prepare the coadjutor for the eventual succession and duty as the new bishop of the diocese. Coadjutors are not given any titular sees since they are bound immediately to the see (diocese/archdiocese) which they are to succeed in the future.


5. Titular dioceses/archdioceses : These are usually ancient dioceses/archdioceses, mostly located in North Africa and the Middle East, which due to historical events, had fallen into seclusion and extinction. Some can also be found in Europe and Italy, where some dioceses and archdiocese had been suppressed in the past, and become titular sees. These are now given to Apostolic Nuncios, Apostolic Delegates, and the auxiliary bishops.


6. Major Archdioceses : These are only found in the Eastern Catholic Churches, namely the main diocese in the Syro-Malankar, Syro-Malabar, Romanian, and Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Churches, whose importance place them into this special type of Archdioceses, but not high enough to be given the title of a Patriarchate itself.


7. Patriarchate (Latin and Eastern Catholic) : These are the special Patriarchal sees headed by a Patriarch, which in the Eastern Catholic Churches are the leaders of their respective Churches, in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. They are the Patriarchs of the ancient Pentarchy, of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch, and historically of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). However, in our approach to our sister Church of the Eastern Orthodox (who is not yet in full communion with Rome), we respect their Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is the leader of the Eastern Orthodox faithful. Latin Patriarchates also exist in Lisbon, Venice, and Goa, which are headed by Roman Catholic Archbishops, but with special Patriarchal title, due to their distinctive history in the Church. Rome itself was a Patriarchate (of the West) until 2006, but was abolished by Pope Benedict XVI to better reflect the position of the Pope as the leader of the Universal Church, and not just the Church of the West (the Roman Church).


So, therefore, after talking about bishops, who they are, and what types of bishops are there, let us now look into the vestments and the items particular to bishops, all of which are steeped in the tradition of the faith and filled with deep symbolism.


1. Working dress (worn outside Mass and important events, the daily wear of bishops, and also for Cardinals and Popes)

a. Simar            


A simar is a special type of cassock worn by the bishops, cardinals, and popes, that is a cassock with a shoulder cape, and a sash (around the waist), which is violet for bishops, scarlet for cardinals, and white for popes. As is well known, the Pope’s simar is white in colour, while bishop’s and cardinal’s simar is black, and with violet lining for bishops, and scarlet lining for cardinals.


b. Pectoral cross (also part of the pontificalia and the choir dress)



The pectoral cross is worn as its name suggests, on the breast, to represent Christ who protects us from harm, as noted in the prayer of the bishop when he wear the pectoral cross before the Mass, called Munire me dignerisMunire digneris me, Domine Jesu Christe, ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium, signo sanctissimae Crucis tuae: ac concedere digneris mihi indigno servo tuo, ut sicut hanc Crucem, Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis refertam, ante pectus meum teneo, sic semper mente retineam at memoriam passionis, et sanctorum victorias Martyrum. (May You graciously protect me, o Lord Jesus Christ, from all the snares of all my enemies, the sign of the Your most holy Cross: that You would vouch and grant to me and all unworthy of being Your servant, that I may receive the Cross, filled with the remains of Your Saints, in front of my breast, I hold, then it always in mind, but retain the memory of the passion, martyrs and saints victories.). 

This is because pectoral crosses are usually precious and contain the relics of the saints, which therefore be further a reminder that the bishop carries with Him at all times, Christ, and His holy Saints, and a reminder of the Cross, through which the salvation of our Lord comes to us.


c. Zucchetto (or skullcap)



Zucchetto is from the Italian word which means small gourd, because its shape which resembles (half of) a pumpkin. This is a head covering item for the bishops, cardinals, and popes, with the similar pattern of violet for bishops, scarlet for cardinals, and white for popes. This item has a lot in common and may have originated from the Jewish prayer cap, which is somewhat different from the zucchetto in appearance. Originally zucchetto has a practical use in the past, since the clergy in that era were tonsured, that is having their head shaved at the centre, and thus, without the present day heating available, during cold times, the head of the prelate (bishops) would become cold, and the zucchetto came in handy as a covering.

Nowadays, it is a symbol of prayer, and also honor, and therefore, as a sign of humility, it is always removed at the beginning of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer and the head of the bishops (including cardinals and Popes) remain bare throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion.


d. Episcopal ring



The episcopal ring symbolises the bishop as the shepherd is married to God’s Church, in particular the diocese and the sheep, the faithful in Christ whom he is supposed to guide as the shepherd. The prayer the bishop said when wearing it reflects that this ring is also a symbol of virtue and sanctification, and blessing : Cordis et corporis mei, Domine, digitos virtute decora, et septiformis Spiritus sanctificatione circumda. (With my heart and of my body, O Lord, decorate my fingers with virtue, and sanctify me with the sevenfold blessing of the Holy Spirit around me).


2. Choir dress (worn during the Mass if the bishop is not the celebrant or concelebrant in the Mass, and events like Vespers, and also worn outside for important events)


a. Cassock with fascia/sash

This cassock with sash style is similar to the simar, but is entirely violet for bishops and scarlet for cardinals (as opposed to black with violet or scarlet lining)


b. Rochet


A beautiful, usually thin, either white or translucent, and laced piece of clothing worn over the cassock and the fascia, as seen worn above by Monsignor Georg Ganswein, now Archbishop Ganswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household.


c. Mozzetta



Mozzetta (violet for bishops) is a shoulder cape worn over the rochet and the cassock.


d. Pectoral cross


Similar with in working dress, but more often worn with a cord rather than a chain.


e. Zucchetto

Violet for bishops. Similar as in the working dress.


f. Biretta



A hat-like item which has the same ancestry as our modern academic mortar board (worn on the graduations in universities), which is violet for bishops and has a pom-pom like object on the top. Only has three peaks, and the unpeaked side is always worn on the left.


3. Bishop’s Pontificalia (worn during the Mass when celebrating)

a. Dalmatic



Similar as those worn by deacons, which has squarish-edges as compared to the chasuble (which has more rounded edges), worn over the alb but under the chasuble. Here is the picture of our Pope Benedict XVI wearing the dalmatic during the consecration of a new church in Rome, after he took off his chasuble for the anointing of the altar with holy oils.


b. Chasuble



Chasuble as worn by the priests, worn over the dalmatic and the stole, and in this picture, Pope Benedict XVI wore the more traditional Roman-style chasuble, and very visibly underneath the chasuble, is the dalmatic. Only bishops can wear both the chasuble and the dalmatic.


c. Pectoral cross

Worn under the chasuble, not over the chasuble, either the normal chained or corded pectoral cross. Not correctly worn when worn above the chasuble, although many bishops seem to do this. Pope Benedict XVI himself consistently wear the pectoral cross under the chasuble since the beginning of his Pontificate.


d. Episcopal ring

Worn on the finger, which signify his marriage to God and His Church.


e. Mitre







Worn over the zucchetto on the head, and was developed from the camelaucum, or the secular headdress of the late Roman Empire and early Byzantine Empire, where they are also worn by the Popes and the Roman priests, and gradually was restricted only to bishops and abbots.

The mitre symbolises the teaching authority of the bishops, which are symbolised by the two peaks of the mitre, representing the Old and the New Testament, and also recall the flames of the Holy Spirit that inflame the hearts of the Apostles to spread the Good News to all peoples. Therefore, these represents the authority of the bishop to teach the Gospel through the Holy Spirit and based on the Scripture, the Word of God, both the Old and the New Testament. The two lappets behind the mitre themselves also represent the Old and the New Testament, the two sides of the Lord’s Sacred Scripture (which shape looks just like a book marker).


f. Crosier (Pastoral staff)





The crosier, or the pastoral staff is the crook-like staff, reminding us on the shepherd’s crook, which they use to shepherd their sheep. Thus, the crosier represents the bishops’ role as the shepherds of the people of God, and guide them in their journey towards the Lord, the Chief Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.


g. Pallium (only for Metropolitan Archbishops and the Pope)


The pallium is a woolen band worn around the shoulder. This represent the metropolitan’s role as the overseer of the faithful, over the sheep of the Lord, that is the faithful people of God, just like Jesus, the Good Shepherd carrying His sheep on His shoulder. Therefore, the pallium represents both the authority of the metropolitan, and the burden presented by his ministry in the service of the Lord.




The pallium used to be much wider, as reflected in the earlier pallium that Pope Benedict XVI wore, which used the style not worn since a millenia ago, in the earlier days of the Church. Now the most common form of the pallium is a shorter and narrower woolen band worn around the shoulders, and adorned with three pins that represent the nails that pieced Christ on the cross, and these pins were placed onto the black crosses (red for Pope Benedict XVI’s new, larger pallium and the earlier, much larger pallium), which represent the wounds of Christ.


After all that, and after looking into what a bishop is, what is the nature of the ministry of the bishops, the types of bishops, what they wear and what symbolisms are there in them, let us now take a time to pray, and pray indeed for the soon-to-be ordained Coadjutor Archbishop, William Goh, of the Archdiocese of Singapore.

May God be with him all the days of his new ministry as bishop, and strengthen him at all times, that when his ministry begins this Friday, the Holy Spirit will guide him and keep him faithful to the ministry he has been chosen for, forever and ever. Amen!