St. Agnes of Rome
|Feastday: Jan 21
Patroness of Girls
||Agnes was a beautiful, wealthy Roman girl who decided in childhood to dedicate herself
to God. She was only 13 years old when she suffered martyrdom for her
Faith. Agnes had made a promise to God never to marry. Since she was very
beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but her response to them was, "Jesus
Christ is my only Spouse."
One suitor, Procop, the
Governor's son, tried desperately to win her for his wife with lavish gifts and promises,
but Agnes insisted, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more
splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!"
Furious, Procop accused her of being a Christian (the religion of Rome at that time was
pagan, and Christians were persecuted) and brought her to his father, the Governor. The
Governor promised Agnes rich gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He then
tried to coerce her by putting her in chains, but her lovely face only shown with joy.
Viciously, he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her from harm. At
the end of his evil recourses, he condem her to death. Even the pagans cried to see
such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was unafraid. She
ignored those who begged her to save herself. "I would offend my
Spouse," she said, "if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He
shall have me!" At her martyrdom, she prayed and bowed her head for the
death-stroke of the sword.
The body of St. Agnes was placed in a sepulchre covered by a slab bearing the
inscription Agne sanctissima. It is believed to be the same one which is now
preserved in the Museum at Naples. Agnes was highly revered by Christians throughout
the early days of the Church. During the reign of Constantine, a basilica was erected over
the grave of St. Agnes, which was later entirely remodelled by Pope Honorius (625-638),
and has since remained unaltered.
Since the Middle Ages St. Agnes has been represented with a lamb, the symbol of her
virginal innocence. On her feast two lambs are solemnly blessed, and from their wool are
made the vestments sent by the Pope to archbishops. Her feastday is January 21. She
is the Patroness of girls.
| From an essay by
- Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a
martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is
said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve.
There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the
blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword
by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged
against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord int he midst of
the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege.
She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.
In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. She stood still, she prayed, she
offered her neck.
You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned. His
right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl's peril, while she had no fear
for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and religion; Agnes preserved
her virginity and gained a martyr's crown.
"Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace
I belong to Him whom the angels serve."