LITTLE LAMB, LITTLE LAMB – Blessing of the Lambs Is a Highlight on St. Agnes' Feastday

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

–William Blake, “The Lamb”

     *     *     *     *     *

“What the Pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ.  But at the same time it invites us to carry one another.  Hence the Pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd’s mission…”  –Pope Benedict XVI

     *     *     *     *     *

On January 21, the Feast of St. Agnes, Pope Benedict continued a 130-year-old tradition—the Blessing of the Lambs. 

 In a ceremony guaranteed to evoke a smile, each year on the feast two young lambs are brought to the Holy Father to be blessed.  Covered in blankets, one white (to signify St. Agnes’ purity) and one red (representing her martyrdom), each lamb wears a crown of red and white flowers.  The photo above (from CNS/L’Osservatore Romano) shows the lamb that was blessed three years ago. 

 We’ll hear of the lambs again on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.  On that day, we commemorate the martyrdom of these two great pillars of the Church.  The Pope, in a special ceremony, places a “pallium” over the shoulders of the newest archbishops from around the world.  And that’s where those little lambs come in:  The pallium, a circular stole, is woven from the lambs’ fleece.  It reminds us how our archbishop, like the Good Shepherd, cares for his flock.

 Here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, our own Archbishop Allen Vigneron was among the bishops who received the pallium on June 29, 2009.  The story was recorded in a video production by his 11- and 10-year-old nephews, Garrett and Griffin Vigneron, who were accompanied by a professional film crew through the streets of Rome.  You can see a photo of the Vigneron nephews here (above), and you can watch the video at Archbishop Vigneron’s blogsite,