Friday, January 22, 2016

The Blessing of the Lambs on the Feast of St Agnes 2016

Our Roman pilgrim-on-the-scene, Agnese Bazzucchi, once again celebrated her name-day (tanti auguri!) with a visit to the church of Saint Agnes Outside-the-Walls, the original site of the martyr’s burial. Each year at the principal Mass of the feast held in this church, the Abbot of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Savior of the Lateran blesses two lambs; their wool is later shorn to make the pallia worn by archbishops. Here are her photos of the lambs prepared for the blessing.

And from last year, the beautiful decorations of the church’s sanctuary.

In the crypt under the altar is a silver casket donated by Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-22), containing the relics of St Agnes, and also those of St Emerentiana, her “collactanea” or “foster-sister”, whose mother was Agnes’ wet-nurse. According to her legend, two days after Agnes’ martyrdom, Emerentiana was spied praying at her tomb by a gang of pagan thugs, and stoned to death by them on the very site. At the time of her death, she was only a catechumen; the veneration of her as a Saint from very ancient times is an important testimony to the Church’s belief in baptism by blood and by desire. Her feast is on January 23rd in the calendar of the Extraordinary Form.

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