Agnus Dei

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From Latin Agnus Dei ‎(lamb of God).


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Agnus Dei ‎(plural Agnus Deis or Agnus Dei)

  1. (Roman Catholicism) A liturgical chant recited as part of the Mass, beginning with those words, or the music to which it is set. [from 10th c.]
  2. (Roman Catholicism) A small model or a picture of a lamb with a cross.
  3. (Roman Catholicism) A bar of wax imprinted with a similar shape and blessed by the Pope. [from 16th c.]
    • 1796, Matthew Lewis, The Monk, Folio Society 1985, p. 194:
      Matilda continued her incantations; at intervals she took various items from the basket, the nature and name of most of whichwere unknown to the friar: but among the few which he distinguished, he particularly observed three human fingers, and an agnus dei, which she broke in pieces.
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, p. 28:
      The most common of these amulets was the agnus dei, a small wax cake, originally made out of paschal candles and blessed by the Pope, bearing the image of the lamb and flag.




Agnus Dei (usually capitalized)

  1. Literally, "Lamb of God", a title applied by Christians to Jesus, whose death they equate with the offering of such animals for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem by those who have sinned, as described in the Hebrew scriptures.
  2. prayer in the Mass, and musical composition of that prayer, which begins with the words "Agnus Dei...."
    Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi...
    Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world...

Related terms[edit]