As is traditional on the feast of the Roman martyr Saint Agnes, Pope Francis blessed two lambs yesterday, January 21, 2020, in the Vatican’s Urban VIII Chapel, reported Vatican News.
The two lambs, raised by the monks of the Trappist Abbey of Tre Fontane, were taken to the Holy Father in baskets, their head crowned white and red roses.
Earlier in the morning, they were taken to the Basilica of Saint Agnes Outside-the-Walls, on via Nomentana, where Saint Agnes rests, killed in the 4th century at 12, for her faithful love of Christ.
The lambs’ wool will be used by the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia in Trastevere to make the palliums, which the Pope will deliver to the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the year, during the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The pallium is a five-centimeters strip of fabric, which is worn on the chasuble. It is made of white wool and ornamented with six small crosses of black silk. The pallium is fixed with gem gold pins. This liturgical ornament is worn by the Pope and by the Metropolitan Archbishops in their Churches and in the Churches of their Provinces, as a sign of special communion with the Successor of Peter.
It was Paul VI who limited the attribution of the pallium to the Pope and to the Metropolitan Archbishops in 1978. Six years later, in 1984, Pope John Paul II decided that its delivery would be fixed at June 29.
Henceforth they were delivered, not “imposed.” They are imposed in their local Churches by the Apostolic Nuncios, to foster the participation of the People of God in this highly symbolic ceremony.