A pall (also called a mortcloth) is a cloth which covers a coffin at funeral. The word comes from the Latin pallium (cloak), through Old English.
The use of a rich cloth pall to cover the coffin during the funeral grew during the Middle Ages; initially these were brightly colored and patterned, only later black, and later still white. They were usually then given to the Church to use for vestments or other decorations.
The rules for the pall's color and use vary depending on religious and cultural traditions. Commonly today palls are pure white, to symbolize the white clothes worn during baptism, and the joyful triumph over death brought about by the Resurrection. The color is not fixed, though, and may vary with the liturgical season. Traditionally, it is common for the pall, as well as the vestments of the clergy to be black. The pall will often be decorated with a cross, often running the whole length of the cloth from end to end in all four directions, signifying the sovereignty of Christ's triumph over sin and death on the cross.
The pall is placed on the coffin as soon as it arrives at the church, and will remain on the coffin during all of proceedings in the church. If the family members wish to view the deceased, this would normally be done previously at the funeral home before the coffin is brought to the church; but customs will vary from denomination to denomination. The pall will be removed at the graveside, just before the coffin is lowered into the ground. But if the remains are to be cremated, there will be a curtain which the pall-covered coffin will go through, and behind which the pall will be removed.
Military funerals often use the nation's flag as a pall.
The Holy Cross Historic Pall is rumored to have survived the Civil War and has a very strong association with the symbols found in the Anglican Communion, through the Church of England, as described below:
Two obvious symbols found on this pall, and associated with the Anglican Church (through the Church of England) are the Tudor Rose, located along the outer border of the pall, and the cross of St. George (the large red cross covering the entire length and width of the cloth).
Our Pall has been retired from regular use. It was last used at the funeral service for Miss Mardi Britt in February 2015. The Britt family originally purchased the pall for the church when it was first founded.When Henry Tudor took the crown of England from Richard III in battle, he brought about the end of the Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster (whose badge was a red rose) and the House of York (whose badge was a white rose). His father was Edmund Tudor from the House of Richmond, and his mother was Margaret Beaufort from the House of Lancaster; he married Elizabeth of York to bring all factions together.
On his marriage, Henry adopted the Tudor Rose badge conjoining the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster.
Other examples of the Tudor Rose, from Google Images, are shown below:
Additional information regarding the Tudor Rose can be found on Wikipedia.
As stated in the above text (and repeated below), our Historic Pall follows the traditional pattern of having a cross running the whole length of the cloth:
In this case, the Cross of St. George (found on the national flag of England and incorported into the Union Jack), has been used to cover the Historic Pall. The Cross of St. George is clearly visible in both the flags shown below:
Along both of the longest edges of the Historic Pall is a prayer, quoted below:
+ Eternal + rest + grant + them + O + Lord + and + light + perpetual + shine + upon + them + AMEN +
Emblazoned on the Cross of Saint George are 19 sunbursts, each representing the perpetual light of God, which is at the heart of the prayer along the edge of the pall.
If you or any member of your family have any additional information regarding the history and use of the Holy Cross Historic Pall, please contact us so that we may incorporate those details into the history of this very important artifact!