(Note: Agnes is recognized in the Orthodox Church, but the context and prayers here are from the Roman perspective. This post was written before my conversion from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. )
Today’s post is in honor of St. Agnes, martyr and patron saint of betrothed couples, chastity, gardeners, rape survivors, and young girls.
Her legend is much like St. Agatha’s: a beautiful girl born into a wealthy family, with many suitors of high rank. Just like Agatha, Agnes rejected them on the basis of her religious devotion and was subsequently turned in to the authorities. Not much else is known of Agnes, other than the fact that she was a girl of 12 or 13 who was martyred for her faith in the late 200’s. Saint Ambrose gives an account of her death in a homily, and though the various features of her legend are not included, he stresses her young age and steadfast faith.
According to her legend, she was sentenced by Prefect Sempronius to be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel, where all of the men who attempted to rape her were struck blind and the son of the prefect was struck dead. Agnes prayed for him and he was revived, so she was released for a new trial. Sempronius excused himself from presiding, and the substitute presider sentenced her to death by being burned alive. In some versions of her legend the flames part from her body, where in others they will not light at all. In any case, the burning failed, and so she was stabbed in the neck or beheaded, depending on the source. Christians came to the site with cloths to soak up her blood with from the stadium floor.
After Agnes was buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome, her foster-sister, Saint Emerentiana, was found praying by her tomb. Upon her discovery there, she refused to leave, then reprimanded the pagans for killing Agnes. For this, she was stoned to death.
St. Agnes, after an icon. From the 2016 street series.
Prayer to St. Agnes
St. Agnes, although you were only a child, you believed that Jesus was always with you;
help us to remember that he is also with us, and to remain true to his presence.
St. Agnes, you refused to give up your faith;
help us to be proud of our faith, to love it, to be strong in it, and to give witness to it daily.
St. Agnes, patron saint of children, watch over the children of the world;
keep them safe from harm; be with them in their hour of need; and always pray for them.
“St. Agnes of Rome.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 9 Oct. 2016.
Schaff, Philip and Henry Wace. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church – Second Series: V. 10: Ambrose – on the Holy Spirit; Letters; Hymns. Edinburgh: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1980.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “Be With Them in Their Hour of Need.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 21 Jan. 2017.