The prayer for Mass has this line that I think is a terrific reminder for us on this feast of Agnes the Virgin Martyr, follow her constancy in the faith. To have steadfastness of purpose in the faith and praxis is not only a terrific grace but also essential.
On the liturgical memorial of Saint Agnes it is custom for Holy Father to receive a couple of lambs. So, today in Rome at 12:30pm at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, two lambs were presented to Pope Francis. The wool of these lambs will be made into to the pallia for the new metropolitan archbishops (nominated since last June 29); six black crosses are placed on the it. The pallium is a stole that the metropolitan wears at “important Masses” in the respective province (unfortunately the archbishop wears the pallium all the time so it takes away from the sign of particular unity between the the particular archbishop and the bishop of Rome).
The wool of the lamb is noted for its purity and what these lambs sacrifice is a symbolic act that points to Christ Himself. Scholars like to point out that the Greek translation of Agnes means pure one while in Latin the name means lamb. The great Church Father Saint Jerome writes: “All nations, especially their Christian communities, praise in word and writing the life of St. Agnes. She triumphed over her tender age as well as over the merciless tyrant. To the crown of spotless innocence she added the glory of martyrdom.”
The lambs are raised by the Trappist monks of the Tre Fontane Monastery and the wool is turned into pallia by the Benedictine nuns of Saint Cecilia Monastery, where they will care for them and finally shear them on Holy Thursday. The lambs were blessed earlier at the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside-the-walls, where the virgin-martyr is buried.
Thanks to Fr Dominic Holtz, OP for the picture today; Father Dominic teaches at the Angelicum.