ASK FATHER: Getting waxen “Agnus Dei” from schismatics

Agnus DeiFrom a reader…


I recently obtained several Agnus Dei from Sisters in a traditional, cloistered order here in the U.S. They supposedly procure a smaller amount of the blessed wax from an original Agnus Dei from the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII. The items were purchased, with money exchanging hands for the item holding the Agnus Dei as well as work involved by the Sisters, but the blessed wax is a gift (to avoid simony and maintain the original blessing?).

I recently discovered that the Sisters are part of a schismatic group that are under the direction of a local bishop. Would this invalidate the blessings and graces associated with the pious wearing of an Agnus Dei? Is it wrong or sinful to support such a group through the purchase of their religious items?

Since they are gifts there no problem at all.  Furthermore, it is not wrong to obtain (some would say “rescue” objects such as this from schismatic groups or others, the nefarious people who traffic in relics on Ebay, etc.

Some of you might not know what an Agnus Dei is.

These objects are discs, round or oval, of bees wax impressed with the figure of a lamb, usually with the flag, and saints on the reverse.  They were blessed by the Pope. Sometimes they were worn around the neck.  They are sacramentals. In history they go back to at least the 9th c.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Henry Belton says:

    But Father! But Father!

    In accordance with Summorum Pontificum, we are not to support those groups which doubt the validity or legitimacy of the ordinary form. It seems that this type of schismatic group likely falls into that category. Purchasing items or donating is supporting, right? Thoughts?

  2. Mary Jane says:

    The next obvious question is…what group of sisters is this? I was a little confused to read that they are schismatics but they are also under direction of the local bishop…?

  3. I see I’m going to have to impose moderation on this one too.


  4. msc says:

    Surely “Agni Dei”? :-)

  5. Netmilsmom says:

    I really like the idea of rescuing these items!

  6. KateD says:

    A number of years ago, a friend gave me a Pope Saint John Paul II Agnus Dei when I was pregnant with my second child, the first pregnancy having been difficult.

    Hopefully, Pope Francis will honor this tradition. It is such a blessing to the faithful.

    Pope Benedict XVI didn’t distribute any, did he? As Pope Emeritus, can he still do that? Does he still have the faculties of his last held office? That would be cool :)

  7. Lucas says:

    Wow, these are awesome. I’d love to know a place where I could buy a couple.

  8. APX says:

    I have a piece of an Agnus Dei in a small pectoral profession crucifix ornately filled with small pieces of first class relics. It was a gift I received from a priest who was given a number of boxes full of relics from some sisters whose convent was closing. I can attest to it’s effectiveness in calming storms when used properly.

  9. APX says:

    Lucas, you can’t actually buy one.

    Pope Paul VI was the last pope to bless the Agnus Dei.

  10. Hank Igitur says:

    I have an Agnus Dei blessed by Pope Paul VI. My understanding is that he was the last Pope to bless these sacramentals. Traditionally, they are made by monks from the previous year’s Paschal Candle and blessed by the Pope the Wednesday after Easter in holy water, balsam and chrism (in the first and every subsequent 7th year of his papacy.) The following Saturday, a packet of these is placed into the mitre of every bishop at the Mass after recitation of the Agnus Dei in the Mass and they distribute them as they see fit.

  11. G1j says:

    Easter 1964 from Pope Paul VI was the last season that these sacramentals were distributed. I too wish that Pope Francis would re-establish the custom. Sacramentals are so important to our faith and aid in teaching our children about the faith. Something that they can see, touch and hold in their hands really ignites the mind of a child.

  12. Muv says:

    Here is an interesting potted history of St. Cuthbert Mayne, who was wearing an Agnus Dei when he was captured.

  13. Lucas says:

    I shouldn’t have said buy, I meant to say donate somewhere in the hopes of obtaining one. ;)

Comments are closed.