This morning in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, in keeping with the tradition for today's feast of St. Agnes, the Pope today blessed two lambs, the wool of which will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
The pallium is a white woolen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn over the shoulders and has two hanging pieces, front and back. Worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops, the pallium symbolizes authority and expresses the special bond between the bishops and the Roman Pontiff.
St. Agnes of Rome was held in high regard in the early Church for her virginity and her heroism under torture at a very young age (12-13). Her martyrdom has been celebrated on January 21 since at least 354 A.D. and her praises have been sung by the likes of St. Augustine and St. Ambrose.