As is customary on this, the feast of St. Agnes, the Holy Father at hsi residence was presented two lambs which had been blessed this morning in the Basilica of St. Agnes on the via Nomentana. The wool from these lambs will be used to make the Pallia given to all the new Metropolitan Archbishops this year.
The pallia are stored in a casket near the Confessio Petri. The nuns of the Roman convent of San Lorenzo raise the lambs who are offered to the Holy Father by the Canons Regular of the Lateran.
The pallium is a liturgical garment of honor and authority placed on the shoulders of the archbishops. It is a band of clothe, woven in white wool and decorated with six crosses of black silk. It falls over the shoulders of the archbishop and down the chest and back.
The Holy Father will impose the pallium on the new Metropolitan Archbishops this coming June 29, on the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul.
You may ask, “Why on the Feast of St. Agnes?”
Agnes comes from the Latin word, agnus, which means lamb. St. Agnes is a celebrated virgin and martyr of the Church, who was killed in 305 AD at the age of 12 years. She refused to renounce her faith, despite many attempts by the Roman officials to spare her life by trying to get her to do so. She was an esteemed martyr in the Roman Church from very early on, with St. Ambrose preaching eloquently about her.
St. Agnes, pray for us!