St Agnes Virgin Martyr
Holy Agnes was martyred on 21st January c305 AD in the Piazza Navona in Rome, at the tender age of twelve or thirteen. The son of the Governor of Rome proposed marriage, but Agnes preferred virginity. Her refusal to accept his hand, sent the Governor into a rage, and he threatened to expose Agnes’s parents as Christians, and so face certain death. He tried to persuade Agnes to change her mind by making her walk naked through the city, but her hair miraculously grew to cover her body and save her nakedness. This could not change her mind, so Agnes was burned at the stake, but the flames refused to touch her. She was sent to the lions, who made no attack on her. The son of the Governor goaded the lions who then attacked and killed him. The Father, distraught at his son’s death, pleaded with Agnes to pray for him, and at her intercession he was restored to health. Undeterred, the Governor had Agnes beheaded. Her body was buried in the Catacombs outside the city. On the octave day, she appeared in a vision, full of assurance of her well-being.
Her preference of death, rather than any violation to her young sacred body won her much renown in the early Church, most especially in Europe.
Her severed head is in the Church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone in the Piazza Navona. Her body is in the Basilica of Sant’ Agnese fuori le Mura (St Agnes outside the Walls) on the Via Nomentana.
Because of the resemblance of her name, Agnes to agnus (latin for lamb) she is often represented in Art carrying a lamb. And, on her feast day in the Basilica of St Agnes the Holy Father blesses lambs, from which the sisters of St Agnes’ convent make the Sacred Pallia, worn by Archbishops. Once the Pallia are made, they rest above the tomb of St Peter in the Vatican, from where new Archbishops receive them from the Holy Father.
We celebrate with her and all the saints, their victory over death and suffering through Jesus. We also pray and hope that we will be amongst their number and remain loyal to the faith which she professed, live and died by.
Holy Agnes, pray for us and for my daughter until she stand beside you in heaven!