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Pope blesses lambs in traditional gesture for feast of St. Agnes

January 21, 2014

Following an old Vatican tradition, Pope Francis marked the feast of St. Agnes on January 21 by blessing the lambs whose wool will be used for the palliums that are conferred upon new metropolitan archbishops.

The pallium, a white woolen vestment, is worn by archbishops during liturgical celebrations. Every year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Pope presents the pallium to each prelate who has been named as an archbishop during the preceding year. The presentation of the pallium is a symbol of the communion among the metropolitan churches around the world.

The blessing of the lambs is traditionally done on January 21, the feast of St. Agnes-- a 4th-century martyr whose symbol is a lamb. The lambs are raised by Trappist monks, and when they are shorn their wool is woven into the white vestments.


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