Agnus Dei

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Agnus Dei, the "Lamb of God"

The Agnus Dei, the figure of a lamb bearing a cross, is a symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God. The device is common in ecclesiastical art.

Agnus Dei is also the popular name for the litany beginning with these words, which is said to have been introduced into the Mass by Pope Sergius I (687-701). Based upon John 1: 29, the Latin form (with translation) is:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

This litany is spoken or sung during the Rite of Fraction and Commingling.

It is also appended to many of the Church's litanies. In the Church of England, it is acceptable for the the "Agnus Dei" to be sung in English by the choir during the administration of Holy Communion, provided that the reception of the elements is not delayed till its conclusion.

In the Roman Catholic Church, this name also refers to a small cake made of the wax of the Paschal candle and impressed with this figure. Since the 9th century, it has been customary for the Pope to bless these cakes, and distribute them on the Sunday after Easter among the faithful. They are highly prized as having the power to avert evil. In modern times the distribution has been limited to persons of distinction, and is made by the Pope on his accession and every seven years thereafter.

Other Uses

"Agnus Dei" is also the name of Samuel Barber's choral arrangement of his Adagio for Strings.

"Agnus Dei" is also the name of a contemporary Christian praise song written by Michael W. Smith and performed by him and by Third Day

See Also

Lamb of God (religious)
Lamb of God (music)

de:Agnus Dei
fr:Agnus Dei
pl:Baranek Boży
pt:Agnus Dei

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