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St. Agnes

Name: St. Agnes
Date: 21 January

Saint Agnes was twelve years old when she was led to the altar of Minerva at Rome andcommanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. In the midst of theidolatrous rites she raised her hands to Christ, her Spouse, and made the sign of the life-givingcross. She did not shrink when she was bound hand and foot, though the manacles slipped fromher young hands, and the heathens who stood around were moved to tears. Bonds were notneeded for her; she hastened gladly to the place of her torture.

When the judge saw that pain had no terrors for her, he inflicted a sentence comporting an insultworse than death: she was condemned to be taken to a house of infamy and her clothes strippedoff. “I have an Angel with me,” she said, “and he will guard me. Christ, whom you do not know,surrounds me like a wall which cannot be forced.” And so it occurred. The Spouse of Virginsrevealed, by a miracle, His custody of the pure in heart: her hair grew miraculously to such alength that she was entirely covered by it. The place to which she was taken was illuminated by abrilliant, inexplicable light; and there she knelt down to pray. At that site a Church has been builtin honor of this young maiden’s victory over impurity. Only an impudent suitor, the cause of herarraignment as a Christian, dared approach her, and her Angel struck him dead at her feet. Hisfather prayed Agnes to raise him up again by her magic arts; she answered that magic was notresponsible for his death, but only the young pagan’s lack of respect for God. She said she wouldpray to Him that her Lord’s glory might be manifested by the miracle his father requested, and itwas granted to her prayer.

At length the sentence of death by the sword was passed upon her by a subordinate judge. For amoment she stood erect in prayer, then bowed her neck to the sword, rejoicing that the time ofher liberation had arrived. The Angels bore her pure soul to Paradise. A week after her death,Saint Agnes appeared to her parents as they were praying at her tomb; she was amid a choir ofvirgins clothed in golden robes and crowned with garlands. She begged them not to weep for heras for one dead, telling them rather to rejoice with her in her happiness.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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