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Pope Francis continues tradition of blessing two lambs in memory of St. Agnes

Wool shorn from the blessed sheep will be woven into pallia.

On Thursday Pope Francis celebrated St. Agnes' feast day in the Vatican by continuing the centuries-old tradition of blessing two lambs in her honor.

Highlights

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Traditionally, the lambs blessed on January 21 are under a year old and their first shear will result in the woolen stoles decorated with six black crosses Metropolitan Archbishops wear around their necks called pallium.

Pallia serve as a symbol of an Archbishop's authority and unity with the Pope.

During the blessing ceremony, one lamb wears a crown of white flowers to represent St. Agnes' consecrated virginity. 

The other lamb wears a red floral wreath as a symbol of St. Agnes' faithful refusal to worship pagan gods, even unto death.

Once the Palliums are made, they are guarded in an urn at the tomb of St. Peter until June 29, when the Pope will bless them in celebration of the feast days for Saints Peter and Paul.

St. Agnes, sometimes called St. Agnes of Rome, is the patron of young girls, chastity, rape survivors and the Children of Mary. 

Though she is not the patron saint of lambs, she is often portrayed with lambs at her feet or in her arms as a symbol of her virginal innocence.

An excellent prayer to St. Agnes of Rome comes from St. Agnes Cathedral, which reads:

O glorious St. Agnes, you served God in humility and confidence on earth and are now in the enjoyment of His beatific Vision in heaven because you persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life.

Remember now the dangers that surround me in the vale of tears, and intercede for me in my needs and troubles. Amen.

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