Saints in the Roman Canon (Part 32)

In the Roman Canon, after St. Lucy we find St. Agnes.

St. Agnes is admired for her charm of childhood, virginal innocence, and heroism?  Agnes, the child of wealthy and distinguished parents, was an elect child of grace; truly responding to her name (as St. Jerome writes), her childhood passed in spotless purity and lamblike innocence (the Latin ‘agnus’ means ‘lamb’).  A hundred years after her death, St. Ambrose said: “Even at the present day, many Roman maidens cherish the example of St. Agnes, as though she were still dwelling and living among us, animating themselves thereby to a perpetual preservation of purity.”

She gained the double crown of virginity and martyrdom at the tender age of thirteen.  As is related in the history of her life, she was, “though a child in years, yet mature in mind; a girl in stature, but a matron in spirit; beautiful in appearance and figure, but still more charming in soul by piety and modesty.”  When asked in marriage, she described in animated, glorious words her espousal with the heavenly Bridegroom: “Depart from me, thou inciter to sin, for already hath another Lover possession of my heart, who far surpasseth thee in nobility, and who hath given me incomparably more beautiful presents than those which thou hast offered me.  His nobility is the highest, His power the greatest, His appearance the most beautiful, His love the sweetest. The angels serve Him; sun and moon admire His beauty; by the perfume of virtue that exhales from His person the dead are awakened; by His touch the sick are cured. He hath prepared for me His bridal-chamber, where music and song resound; for Him I preserve fidelity, to Him I give myself entirely and without reserve!”

She was taken to an abode of vice, but was protected by her guardian angel, who covered and shielded her with a garment of dazzling light. S he was then thrown into a burning pile; but she made the Sign of the Cross over the flames and remained unharmed.  Finally, she fell under the sword of the executioner (304), and thus the tender victim hastened to the nuptials of the Divine Lamb. She was buried a short distance from the city on the Nomentan Road in the villa of her parents. Her tomb became glorious, for on the spot arises one of the loveliest and most renowned churches of Rome (S. Agnese fuori le mura).  Her feast day is January 21.


St. Agnes, pray for us!

For the Greater Glory of God,

Fr. Matt