Vatican City, 21 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, on the liturgical memory of St. Agnes, the lambs which had been blessed in the basilica where the saint is entombed on the Via Nomentana in Rome were presented to the Pope. The wool of these lambs is used to weave the pallia for the new metropolitan archbishops.
The pallium – a white stole adorned with six black crosses – is a liturgical vestment worn by the Pope and the metropolitan archbishops in their Churches and in those of their Provinces. The pallia are stored in a casket near the Confessio Petri and the pontiff bestows them upon the new archbishops on the Solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, as a sign of union with the Apostolic See.
The nuns of the Roman convent of San Lorenzo in Panisperna raise the lambs who are offered to the Holy Father by the Canons Regular of the Lateran on the feast day of St. Agnes, martyred in the year 305 and depicted with a lamb according to the traditional iconography.