Pope Benedict celebrates  Feast of St. Agnes with blessing of lambs 

Vatican City, Jan 22  (CNA/EWTN News) – In a traditional ceremony marking the feast of Saint Agnes, Pope Benedict blessed a pair of lambs whose wool will be used to make palliums for the Church’s new metropolitan archbishops.

The wool of the lambs, who were raised by the Trappists of Tre Fontane Monastery, will be used to make palliums, a vestment worn by metropolitan archbishops to signify their unity with the Church of Rome.

St. Agnes, whose name means “lamb” in Latin, was a Roman virgin-martyr who at the tender age of 12 gave up her life for the sake of Christ and her consecrated virginity. She is the patroness of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Since she is mentioned in the Roman Canon, her association with the pallium is an important symbol of unity with the successor of Saint Peter.

One of the lambs wore a crown of white flowers in memory of St. Agnes’ purity, and the other bore a red floral wreath to recall her faithful witness until death.
Pope selects American priest for rare St. Peter’s job 

Vatican City, Jan 21 (CNA/EWTN News) – For the first time in the 21st century, Pope Benedict XVI has made an American priest a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“You’re the first of this century and the first of this millennium,” said Cardinal Angelo Comastri during the Jan. 20 celebration for Monsignor Francis D. Kelly.

“This is a celebration of fidelity, and fidelity is maintaining during the whole life the commitment pronounced in your youth,” he added in St. Peter’s Basilica, referring to Msgr. Kelly’s priesthood of 50 years.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his new role in an Oct. 20 decree, giving the 76-year-old the primary tasks of prayer and worship. A canon is a senior priest who is responsible for the celebration of the sacred liturgy at the Vatican basilica and for maintaining a prayerful presence in the place where St. Peter is buried. They lead the recitation of evening prayers and concelebrate Mass on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. as well as on major feast days.

There are 24 canons in St. Peter’s Basilica, and with the addition of Msgr. Kelly, they will represent 10 countries. Msgr. Kelly, a priest of the Diocese of  Diocese of Worcester, Mass., has served as superior of the Casa Santa Maria, the residence for U.S. priests studying at the pontifical universities in Rome, for the past eight years.

Cardinal Comastri said that his representation of the United States is “a beautiful sign of the catholicity of the Church.

Pope appeals for peace during weekly Angelus

(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to conflicts around the world on Sunday. Speaking to pilgrims and faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him, Pope Benedict especially prayed that, in the various conflicts unfortunately under way around the world, “The slaughter of innocent civilians should cease.” He went on to say, “Let there be an end to all violence, and let there be found the courage to conduct dialogue and to negotiate.”

The Pope’s appeal for peace came in the context of a reflection on the pressing need for a recovery of the full, visible communion of all Christians, which Christ Himself desires for His Church. This Sunday falls in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – a theme to which the Pope also turned in his English remarks to the faithful.

Let us join our prayers to those of our brothers and sisters of all Churches and communities, that we may dedicate ourselves ever more earnestly to working towards our visible unity in Jesus Christ.”

A convert and founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Father Paul Wattson began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1908. It opens each year on the day of the traditional Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (Jan. 18), and concludes on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan 25.)