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Saint Agatha of Sicily

AKA: Agatha of Catania
Agatha of Palermo
Agueda

Born: c. 231 in Prison at Catania or Palermo, Sicily

Died: c. 251 in Catania, Sicily
Martyred by Being Rolled on Coals

Venerated: Roman Catholic Church
Easter Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy
Anglican Communion

Canonized: Pre-congregation by tradition; confirmed by Pope Gregory I

Feast Day: February 5

Patronages: Against Breast Cancer
Against Breast Disease
Against Earthquakes
Against Eruptions of Mount Etna
Against Fire
Against Natural Disasters
Against Sterility
Against Volcanic Eruptions
Bell-Founders
Fire Prevention
Jewelers
Martyrs
Nurses
Rape Victims
Single Laywomen
Torture Victims
Wet-Nurses
Places: Malta
San Marino
Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Belgium
Sainte Agathe des Monts, Quebec, Canada
France
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Spain

Representation: Breasts on a Dish
Crown of Flowers
Embers
Knife
Loaves of Bread on a Dish
Pincers
Shears
Tongs
Veil
Virgin Martyr Wearing a Veil and Bearing her Severed Breasts on a Silver Platter
Palm

Saint Agatha, an illustrious Sicilian virgin, noble of birth, but more so for her heroic virtue, was martyred (at Catania in 251 during the Diocletian persecution) for refusing the solicitation of a Roman senator.  

Her martyrdom and early cult are historically certain but the details are legendary.  According to a legend of the 6th century, the Roman senator, whose name was Quintanius, had Saint Agatha subjected to various cruel tortures, including cutting off her breasts.  When she continued to resist, she was thrown upon red-hot coals.  At this point a violent earthquake shook the town.  Quintanius, fearing that the people would rise up in protest, had Agatha returned to prison, where she died of her tortures.

In addition to being patroness of nurses, Saint Agatha is invoked against earthquakes and diseases of the breast.  Her name is contained in Eucharistic Prayer I at Mass.

Prayer: Lord God, Saint Agatha always pleased You by her chastity and in the end by her martyrdom.  May she obtain for us merciful pardon for our sins.  Amen.

 


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