In the Roman Canon, after St. Felicity and St. Perpetua we find St. Agatha.
While the birthplace of St. Agatha is contested between Sicily and Catana, it is certain that under the Emperor Decius, in the year 251, she bore off the crown of martyrdom at Catana. This holy virgin was renowned far and wide for her nobility and wealth, as well as for her beauty and virtue. Already in her childhood she had chosen Jesus for her spouse, and clung to Him with undivided love. Accused of being a Christian, she was dragged before the heathen judge, Quintianus. This villain endeavored, by all manner of wickedness, to overcome her chaste mind and her courage. But the virgin remained unmoved and unshaken; as the dust beneath her feet, she accounted all that the world could offer.
In prison she was miraculously healed of her burning wounds by St. Peter. Afterward the wretched tyrant gave orders that the saint, miraculously healed, be rolled on sharp potsherds and glowing coals. Again brought back to prison, the saint prayed: “Lord, Thou who hast created me and preserved me since my childhood, who hast delivered my heart from the love of the world and protected my body from perdition, who hast made me triumph over tortures and bonds, over iron and fire, I pray Thee, receive my spirit from this earth into the bosom of Thy mercy!” Thereupon she slept in the peace of the Lord, and her pure soul flew heavenward.
The tomb of St. Agatha, made glorious by God with many miracles, became the refuge of the Christians, and even of the heathens. There also was kept the wonderful veil that was not burned, but only somewhat singed, when the saint was thrown into the blazing fire. One year after her death, the neighboring volcano of Etna burst forth in torrents of fire, which moved toward the city of Catana, and threatened its destruction. Then the inhabitants ran in terror to her tomb, took the veil, and held it in the direction of the stream of lava. At that very instant, it took another course toward the ocean and the city was saved. This event took place on the anniversary of the holy death of the virgin martyr, February 5, which is still observed as her feast day in the Church. Consequently, St. Agatha is the much implored patroness against dangers of fire: as such she is particularly honored in the Black Forest of Germany, where her feast is made resplendent with the brightness of innumerable lights.
St. Agatha, pray for us!
For the Greater Glory of God,