Friday, November 16, 2012

The Mace and Chain of Office

A Look at the Academic Mace and the Chain of Office
Story by Raul Barriga; Photos by Raul Barriga and Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

In last year's graduation ceremony at Mount Angel Seminary, you may have noticed the academic mace in the procession into the Abbey Church.  The faculty marshall, Father Paul Peri, carried the mace, and the now former President-Rector Monsignor Richard Paperini and the Chancellor, Abbot Gregory Duerr, wore the chains of office.  The mace and chains are symbols of authority, according to Cindy May, the administrative assistant for the School of Theology.

Father Paul Peri with the academic mace

May created the mace that is used at this seminary.  It is full of detail and symbolism.  If you have a closer look at the mace, you can see 1) at the top the medallion of the seminary on one side and the icon of Christ the Teacher on the opposite side, and 2) four groves going down the length of the mace that represent the four pillars of formation (human, spiritual, academic, and pastoral).

The icon at the top of the mace

The dedication plague on the stand for the mace

The four pillars of formation are the main areas in which the seminarians work to be formed for the priesthood.  These four pillars from from The Program of Priestly Formation, a document by the U.S. bishops.

May explained that she thought of designing the mace several years ago during a discussion about getting the mace and chains for the president-rector and the abbot.  She explained that she became aware there was no money in the budget for the mace.  Looking in a catalogue for a mace and noticing the expensive cost for buying one, May explained that she thought "I can make one for under two hundred dollars, I'm sure."

She even implemented a decoupage skill she knew so as to place the icon of Christ the Teacher on top of the mace.  With decoupage, a prayer card of the icon was cut around the edges and pasted on top of the mace.  May worked on the mace on evenings after work and on the weekends.

The medallion for Mount Angel Seminary

The chain of office

Details of the names for the current president-rector and some of the past president-rectors

The chain of office has some detail as well.  The one used by the president-rector says "president" and the one used by the abbot says "chancellor."  According to governance of Mount Angel Seminary, "the role of the Chancellor is to ensure that the Seminary operates in accord with the mind of the Church.  He appoints the President-Rector and is chairman of the Board of Directors and the Board of Members."  On the chains themselves are the names of all the past president-rectors and the names of all the former chancellors.

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