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Saint Agnes
Saint Agnes
Virgin and Martyr
Born c. 291
Died c. 304
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Major shrine Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Feast January 21; before Pope John XXIII revised the calendar, there was a second feast on January 28
Attributes a lamb
Patronage Betrothed couples; chastity; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; crops; gardeners; Girl Guides; girls; rape victims; virgins; the diocese of Rockville Centre, New York

Agnes of Rome (c. 291 – c.304) is a virginmartyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Anglican Communion, and in Eastern Orthodoxy. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, engaged couples, rape victims, and virgins.

She is also known as Saint Agnes and Saint Ines. Her memorial, which commemorates her martyrdom, is 21 January in both the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and in the General Roman Calendar of 1962. The 1962 calendar includes a second feast on 28 January,[1] which commemorates her birthday. Agnes is depicted in art with a lamb, as her name resembles the Latin agnus. The name "Agnes" is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective "hagnē" (ἁγνή) meaning "chaste, pure, sacred".

Contents

Biography

A statue of Saint Agnes in a parish dedicated to her in Camarin, Caloocan City, Philippines. The parish is under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Novaliches.

According to tradition, Saint Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility born c. 291 and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve[2] or thirteen during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, on January 21 304.

The Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and on Agnes' refusal he condemned her to death. As Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel. As she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body. It was also said that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind. When led out to die she was tied to a stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her, or, in some other texts, stabbed her in the throat. It is also said that the blood of Agnes poured to the stadium floor where other Christians soaked up the blood with cloths. She did not want to marry but wanted to have God in her life.

A few days after Agnes' death, a girl named Emerentiana was found praying by her tomb; she claimed to be the daughter of Agnes' wet nurse, and was stoned to death after refusing to leave the place and reprimanding the pagans for killing her foster sister. Emerentiana was also later canonized.

Agnes' bones are conserved in the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome, built over the catacomb that housed Agnes' tomb. Her skull is preserved in a side chapel in the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone in Rome's Piazza Navona.

An early account of Agnes' death, stressing her steadfastness and virginity, but not the legendary features of the tradition, is given by Saint Ambrose.[2]

In popular culture

Santa Inês (Saint Agnes)
by Francisco de Zurbarán.

An interesting custom is observed on her feast day. Two lambs are brought from the Trappist abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome to the Pope to be blessed. On Holy Thursday they are shorn, and from the wool is woven the pallium which the pope gives to a newly consecrated metropolitan archbishop as a sign of his jurisdiction and his union with the pope.

Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls; folk custom called for them to practice rituals on Saint Agnes' Eve (20–21 January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. This superstition has been immortalised in John Keats's poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes."

She is represented in art as a young blonde girl in robes, holding a palm branch in her hand and a lamb at her feet or in her arms.

In the historical novel Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs, written by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman in 1854, Agnes is the soft-spoken teenage cousin and confidant of the protagonist, the beautiful noblewoman Fabiola.

She is sometimes misconstrued to be the St Agnes referred to in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas;" as the peasant who Wenceslas sees, lives, "Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes' fountain." The Saint being referred to is actually Agnes of Bohemia.

Hrotsvitha, the tenth century nun and poetess, wrote a play whose subject was St. Agnes. Grace Andreacchi wrote a play based on the legends surrounding the martyrdom of St. Agnes.

See also

References

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAINT AGNES, a virgin martyr of the Catholic Church. The legend of St Agnes is that she was a Roman maid, by birth a Christian, who suffered martyrdom when but thirteen during the reign of the emperor Diocletian, on the 21st of January 304. The prefect Sempronius wished her to marry his son, and on her refusal condemned her to be outraged before her execution, but her honour was miraculously preserved. When led out to die she was tied to a stake, but the faggots would not burn, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and struck off her head. St Agnes is the patron saint of young girls, who, in rural districts, formerly indulged in all sorts of quaint country magic on St Agnes' Eve (20th-21st January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. This superstition has been immortalized in Keats's poem, "The Eve of St Agnes." St Agnes's bones are supposed to rest in the church of her name at Rome, originally built by Constantine and repaired by Pope Honorius in the 7th century. Here on her festival (21st of January) two lambs are specially blessed after pontifical high mass, and their wool is later woven into pallia (see Pallium).


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