Today is the feast of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, one of the best known of the saints of Rome. On this day in one of the churches dedicated to her in Rome, run by the Canons Regular of the Lateran, lambs are normally blessed at Mass, and then again by the pope when they are presented to him. From their wool is made the vestment known as a ‘pallium’, a white collar decorated with crosses worn by metropolitan archbishops over Mass vestments, a sign of the archbishop’s communion with the pope.
St Agnes was martyred probably as a teenager, so her sufferings remind us of how much young people have often suffered for their faith; and also of the abuse of young people within the Church.
Some of you will know John Keats’ powerful poem about last night, ‘The Eve of St Agnes.’
God bless and take care