January 24, 2000
volume 11, no. 16
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Church of St. Agnes Restored. Rome's Patron -- Model for Jubilee Youth, Martyred on Site in Piazza Navonna

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2000 (VIS-ZENIT) - In liturgical memory of the virgin-martyr St. Agnes, for whom the traditional symbol is a lamb, Pope John Paul Friday blessed several lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums given every year to new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office.

    In a 1978 document, "Inter Eximina Episcopalis," Pope Paul VI restricted use of the pallium to the Pope and metropolitan archbishops, In 1984 Pope John Paul decreed that it would be conferred on the metropolitans by the Pope on the June 29th solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

    The blessing of lambs, who are under one year of age, is traditionally celebrated on the January 21 feast of St. Agnes, who died about 350 and who is buried in the basilica named for her on Rome's Via Nomentana. The lambs are raised by Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.

    Usually in attendance at the ceremony in the papal apartments are two Trappist Fathers, two Canons of the Chapter of St. John, the dean of the Roman Rota, two ceremonial officers and two officials from the Office of the Liturgical Ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff.

    At the same time, ZENIT reported that the Church of St. Agnes in Agony reopened Friday, the saint's feastday, after over 7 years of restoration work. The adolescent martyr is the patron of the city of Rome. She was beheaded after suffering public shame in a brothel on the site of the Church.

    In 1652 Pope Innocent X dedicated this grand Baroque church constructed by the Rainaldis, with finishing touches and a facade by Borromini. The church overlooks Piazza Navonna, which was a stadium in Roman times. There is an account of her trial and the miraculous events connected with it, given her conviction of faith and iron will to preserve her virginity in spite of torture and the threat of death.

    The restoration, which cost $2.8 million, was funded by a number of patrons. The work began in 1992, and was carried out by a group of employees of the Superintendence of Architectural Properties and the "Ente Chiesa Sant'Agnese in Agone," which was given the Church by the Pamphili family in 1992.

    The two notable chapels in the Church are dedicated to St. Agnes and St. Sebastian, famous for his martyrdom by a firing squad of archers. The restorers have described the Sacristy as a church within a church -- the place where the noble family of Pope Innocent X retired to pray.

    Below ground level, under the Church, are remains of emperor Domitian's stadium, the tombs of the Pamphili family, and St. Agnes' place of martyrdom. The restoration of the Church is actually still underway. The cost for the remaining work is double the amount already invested. In addition, and in order to complete this beautiful site, there should be posters explaining the history of the Church and the reason it was dedicated to the young Roman martyr, who is proposed as a model of inspiration for youth coming to Rome for the Jubilee. ZE00012101


January 24, 2000
volume 11, no. 16

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