The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Agnes and the Pallium

Canisius | 21 January, 2006 04:18

Upon reading Gueranger's entry for the feast of St. Agnes, I was struck by the beautiful custom of making bishop's pallia out of lambs blessed on the feast of St. Agnes and raised at a convent. Since so many beautiful customs have vanished since the mid-1800s when Gueranger wrote, I wondered whether the pallia are still made this way.

Here's what the second edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia has to say (so this is only six years ago, and probably still true):

"The pallium is made (at least in part) from the wool of two lambs that are blessed each year at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Jan. 21, the feast of St. Agnes. The new pallia is blessed by the pope in the crypt of St. Peter at vespers on June 28, the vigil of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. The blessed pallia are kept overnight at the crypt and conferred on the newly appointed metropolitans on the feast."

A few notes about that. First, note the grammatical blooper: "pallia" is plural, and requires a plural verb. Oops! Second, Gueranger says that they blessed the Lambs in the Basilica Nomentana, but apparently it's done in the Lateran now. Third, I did wonder how they could get enough wool from two sheep to be sure that all the pallia needed in the world would be supplied, but apparentl it is enough for the tradition that they be made "in part" from this special wool. Lastly, the special pallia are apparently meant for the metropolitans, whom we usually refer to as "archbishops".

Pretty neat that the authorities in the Church wear as their symbol of authority a wool linked with so young and strengthless a martyr as Agnes!


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