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St Agnes Lambs

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Saturday 21st saw the feast of St Agnes, and at the Basilica St Agnes Outside the Walls which is North of the city in Rome. During the mass two lambs are presented, which are taken to the altar and blessed the by the bishop. The lambs are then taken away and cared for by a community of sisters in Rome until June when they are then shorn and the wool is used to make the pallia(plural) for the newly installed Archbishops, in St Peters on the feast of St Peter and Paul June 29th. The pallium (singular) is worn around the Archbishops neck during ceremonies and it is a visible link to the union with the Pope.


The lambs were placed in two baskets on a bearer and were happily sleeping most of the time.

St Agnes basilica dates back to the 4th century.

With their own Lourdes grotto.

Inside St Agnes, with a balcony as well.

The altar is situated over the tomb of St Agnes, which is accessible for viewing by a staircase beside the altar. The flag in front of the altar is a for peace, PACE in Italian, which is commonly used around Italy in prayers for peace in eastern Europe.

Behind the altar is a relique of St Agnes on display, probably brought out just for the day.

A statue of St Agnes on the way down to her tomb. St Agnes was martyred in Rome in the year 304 for professing her her faith and chastity to Christ. The connection to the lambs is her name Agnes in Latin 'agnus' means lamb, and she is usually depicted with a lamb due to this fact, it is also a symbol of her purity.

St Agnes tomb, a quick prayer as it was very busy that day.

Back to the lambs.

Entrance procession.


Just before the Eucharist prayer started, in came the lambs.

The lambs were placed on the altar and blessed.

Then incensed, not before time either as one of the lambs had awoken and was replying to the Bishop's blessings, baaaaah!

And then they were off again, the sisters carrying the lambs out were the sisters that were going to be caring for them.

New pallia waiting to be blessed. Picture from- Vatican News link below.



The pallium as worn by Pope Benedict XVI.


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