St. Agnes (Feast: January 21)
Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.
As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.
Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m 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!”
Angered, Procop took the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.
The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.
Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.
St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.
Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.
St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.
SAINT OF THE DAY
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks.