Pope blesses baby lambs on feast of St Agnes

 This morning in the Apostolic Palace, following a centuries-old tradition, Pope John Paul blessed several lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on the June 29 feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul. In a 1978 document, "Inter Eximina Episcopalis," Pope Paul VI restricted use of the pallium to the Pope and to metropolitan archbishops. In 1984 John Paul II decreed that the pallium would be conferred on the metropolitans on the June 29th solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. The custom of blessing the lambs takes place every year on the January 21 liturgical memory of St. Agnes, a virgin who suffered martyrdom about 305 AD and whose symbol is a lamb. She is buried in the basilica named for her in Rome on the Via Nomentana and after the papal blessing the lambs are brought to this basilica. The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains and the palliums are made by the Sisters of St. Cecilia from the newly-shorn wool. Source: Vatican Information Service

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