Today is the feast of St. Agnes, and as customary, the Pope today blessed lambs whose wool will be used to make palliums.
The Holy Father received in audience friars from the Abbey of the Tre Fontane in Rome, with the lambs that he blessed.
The Pope will impose the palliums upon the metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
As Vatican Radio reported, the lambs the Pope blesses each year are traditionally less than a year old.
The palliums are white wool stoles, decorated with six black crosses worn by Metropolitan Archbishops around their necks as a symbol of their authority and unity with the Pope.
Agnes means “lamb” in Latin. St. Agnes, a martyr of the early 4th century known for her consecrated virginity, was killed as a young girl for refusing to worship pagan gods. She is buried in the Basilica named for her, located on Rome’s Via Nomentana.
To symbolize St. Agnes’ purity, when being blessed by the Pope, one of the lambs wears a crown of white flowers, while the other wears a red floral wreath to recall her faithful witness even unto death.
Once woven, the Palliums are guarded in an urn at the tomb of St. Peter until the Pope blesses them on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Last year, Pope Francis modified the Pallium Investiture Ceremony, allowing for archbishops to receive the Pallium in their own diocese.