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Saint Agnes (of Rome)
Ines del Campo
Died: January 21 254 or 304 (sources vary) in Rome, Italy
Beheaded and Burned, or Tortured and Stabbed to Death, or Stabbed in the throat (sources vary)
Venerated: Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Feast Day: January 21
Patronages: Affianced Couples
Children of Mary
Colegio Caprianica Seminary of Rome
Places: Manresa, Spain
Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York
Crown of Thorns
Woman with long Hair and Lamb, sometimes with a Sword in Her Throat
Woman with a Dove, which holds a Ring on its Beak
Woman with a Lamb at her Side
Saint Agnes suffered martyrdom during the bloody persecution of the Emperor Diocletian around 304 at the age of 13 and became one of the best known and most highly regarded of the Roman martyrs. Her name is still retained in the First Eucharistic Prayer for Holy Mass.
The Acts of her Passion, which date back only to the 5th century, are considered to be not entirely reliable but they do tell us something about her. The young noblemen of Rome, attracted by her wealth and beauty, vied with one another in endeavoring to obtain her hand in marriage, but she refused them all, saying that she had chosen a spouse who could not be seen with mortal eyes. Her suitors, in hope of shaking her resolve, accused her of being a Christian.
She was brought before a judge and remained unswayed by either his kindness or his threats. Fires were kindled, instruments of torture were placed before her eyes, but, immovable in her resolve, she surveyed them with heroic calmness. She was sent to a house of prostitution, but the sight of her inspired such awe that not one of the wicked youths of the city dared approach her. One bolder than the others, was suddenly struck with blindness and he fell trembling.
The youthful Saint came forth from this den of iniquity uncontaminated in mind and body, and still a pure spouse of Christ. Her most prominent suitor was so enraged that he incited the judge still more against her. The heroic virgin was condemned to be beheaded. "She went to the place of execution," says Saint Ambrose, "more cheerfully than others go to their wedding."
Amid the tears of the spectators the instrument of death fell, and she went to meet the Immortal Spouse who she had loved better than her life. She was buried on the Via Nomentana, and Constantine erected a church in her honor.
Prayer: All-powerful and ever-living God, You choose the weak in this world to confound the powerful. As we celebrate the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Agnes, may we like her remain constant to in faith. Amen.
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