Born: c. 231 in Catania or Palermo, Sicily
Died: c. 251 in Catania, Sicily
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: Breast Cancer; Bellfounders; Bakers; Against Fire and Earthquakes; Rape Victims; Sterility; Volcanic Eruptions; Wet Nurses, Nurses; Jewelers; Martyrs; Against Natural Disasters; Single Lay Women; Torture Victims
PLACES: Sicily; Zamarramala, Spain
Saint Agatha, an illustrious Sicilian virgin, noble of birth, but more so for her heroic virtue, was martyred (at Catania in 251 during the Decian persecution) for refusing the solicitations 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 from her tortures.
In addition to being patroness of nurses, Saint Agatha is invoked against earthquakes and diseases of the breast.
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.