Lambs of God

If you’ve ever wondered just where the wool comes from that is used for the pallium, CNS has the answer:

Certain things — such as a bath and getting dressed up — are universal before a personal meeting with the pope, and the rule holds even for lambs.

As he does every year, Pope Benedict XVI blessed two little lambs Jan. 21, the feast of St. Agnes.

Raised by Trappist monks on the outskirts of Rome, the lambs spent the night before their papal audience in the center of Rome on the rooftop terrace of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, interviewed Holy Family Sister Hanna Pomnianowska about her convent’s role in the ancient tradition which makes a connection between the name of St. Agnes, an early Christian martyr, and “agnus,” the Latin word for lamb.

The wool of the lambs blessed on the feast day is woven by a different community of nuns and becomes the fabric for the “pallium,” a circular stole, which the pope gives each June to new archbishops from around the world.

Sister Pomnianowska said her order got involved in 1884 when a group of elderly sisters living nearby could no longer handle the task of preparing the lambs to attend a Mass and then be blessed by the pope.

She said that as soon as the Trappists arrive with the lambs, “we take them to the top floor of our house, where we have a large terrace and laundry room. As you can imagine, they are the joy of the entire community, especially of the younger sisters.”

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