Pope Benedict was presented with two lambs, adorned with flowers, yesterday morning in a ceremony marking the feast of St Agnes. The small lambs, traditionally less than a year old, were carried to the Pope in baskets by the Canons Regular of the Cathedral of St John Lateran. They were reared by religious sisters in the Saint Lawrence convent in Panisperna, Rome.
Earlier the lambs had been blessed in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana, which bears the saint's name and is where she is buried.
In the summer these same lambs will be brought to the Saint Cecilia convent in Trastevere where they will be shorn and their wool will be used to make the palliums - the white woollen band embroidered with six black crosses which are worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops. These will be bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, the Solemnity of the Apostles, Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Earlier the lambs had been blessed in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana, which bears the saint's name and is where she is buried.