I bless thee, Father of glory who hast given me courage to walk intrepidly towards thee even through fire. Behold! What I have believed, I now see! What I have hoped for, I possess! What I have desired, I now embrace! My lips and my heart confess thee. For thee my inmost being longs. Behold, now to thee I go, the only and true God, who, with thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and with the Holy Spirit, livest and reignest forever and ever.
Our saint today, St. Agnes, is one of the Church’s youngest and most popular martyrs. She is often depicted with a lamb because her name is so similar in spelling to the Latin word for lamb (agnus).
The Life of St. Agnes tells us:
This maiden was called Agnes, a name
which signifies lamb in Latin and chaste in
Greek. As a presage of martyrdom and title of
innocence, it seemed to indicate the future in her
regard. Indeed, she admirably fulfilled the
meaning in its double acceptation, by the meek-
ness of a lamb of sacrifice, as well as by the
lustre of her chastity. Thus many of the holy
fathers do not mention her name without prais-
ing its beautiful conformity to her life, and
proclaiming her the justly titled.
Each year in Rome on this day a special ceremony is observed in the Basilica of St. Agnes. The Pope blesses two white lambs, which are then cared for until they are ready for shearing. Their wool is used to weave the pallia which, on the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, are placed on the altar at St. Peter’s which is directly over the body of St. Peter the Apostle. Those pallia are then sent by the Holy Father to archbishops throughout the church as a sign of unity with the Holy See.