Today is the Feast Day of St. Agnes, a fourth-century martyr who is one of the most beloved of all female saints, because of her heroic commitment to purity. It is within the Church on January 21st, the day of Agnes’ execution, that two lambs are presented to the Pope, who blesses the lambs. The lambs suggest the name of Saint Agnes, a play on the word “agnus”, which in Latin means lamb-life. But more than this, the lambs represent the sacrifice of Saint Agnes, who offered her life as a sacrifice to Christ the Lord.
The wool from these lambs prepared on Holy Thursday and used to weave the palliums that the Pope bestows on archbishops. The pallium is a circlet of woolen cloth decorated with crosses that is worn by an archbishop as a sign of the dignity of his office, an office he exercises in communion with the Pope.
We must all be willing to give up our lives in service to Christ the Lord. We may not be asked to accept as our mission torture and death like Saint Agnes but we will be asked to make a sacrifice.
What that specific sacrifice will be will be specific to our vocation and differs from person to person, but whatever our sacrifice will be it will be an act of love, a manifestation of fidelity to Christ, and a witness of our hope that Christ the Lord offers us more than anything than the world can give.