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A black cloth usually spread over the coffin while the obsequies are performed for a deceased person. It generally has a white cross worked through its entire length and width. The Roman Ritual does not prescribe its use in the burial of a priest or layman, but does so for the absolution given after a requiem when the body is not present. Still the Congregation of Sacred Rites supposes its existence, since it forbids ecclesiastics, especially in sacred vestments, to act as pall-bearers for a deceased priest (3110, 15). It also forbids the use of a white transparent pall fringed with gold in the funeral of canons (3248, 3). The "Ceremoniale Episcoporum" orders a black covering on the bed of state for a deceased bishop. It was once customary specially to invite persons to carry the pall, or, at least, to touch its borders during the procession. These pall-bearers frequently had the palls made of very costly materials and these were afterwards made into sacred vestments. Formerly dalmatics or even coverings taken from the altar were used as a pall for a deceased pope, but, on account of abuses that crept in, this practice was suppressed. In the Council of Auxerre (578, can. xii) and in the statutes of St. Boniface the pall hiding the body was forbidden.
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In the English Church the funeral pall was regularly employed. Thus we read that, at the funeral of Richard Kellowe, Bishop of Durham (d. 1316), Thomas Count of Lancaster offered three red palls bearing the coat of arms of the deceased prelate. On the same occasion Edward II of England sent palls of gold cloth. At the burial of Arthur, son of Henry VII, Lord Powys laid a rich cloth of gold on the body. Similar rich palls were used in the obsequies of Henry VII and of Queen Mary.