A Garner of Saints – Saint Agnes

detail of the Saint Agnes of Rome stained glass window, Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Macon, Georgia, USA; artist unknown; photographed by the author, summer 2003Article

Virgin and martyr, born at Rome of a rich and noble family, by whom she was brought up in piety. Inspired by her beauty the son of the prefect fell in love with her and offered her rich presents, but she rejected his advances, declaring that she already had another spouse who had shown her treasures that none could count. The youth fell sick of love and his father remonstrated with Agnes, and at length, on inquiring what was the name of her spouse, discovered that she was speaking of Jesus Christ. The prefect, after cajoling her in vain, commanded her to sacrifice to the goddess Vesta, and on her refusal caused her to be stripped and taken to a house of ill-fame. But the Lord caused her hair to become so thick that it covered her better than her garments had done. At the house of shame she was greeted by an angel, who filled the place with light and brought her garments of shining whiteness. Then the prefect’s son and other youths repaired to the house for their evil purposes, but they were terrified at what they saw. Her lover, however, calling his companions cowards rushed towards her, but was immediately strangled by a devil. Aroused by the shouts of the youths, the prefect hurried to the place, and finding his son dead was overwhelmed with grief and asked Agnes to explain the cause of the disaster, protesting that should she raise the youth to life, he would believe. By means of her tearful intercession the youth was restored by an angel and loudly professed his faith in Jesus Christ. At this the priests raised a tumult against Agnes, and though the prefect endeavoured to save her, he was unable to do so and delivered her over to his vicar. The latter caused her to be thrown into the fire, but the flames separated and left her uninjured, while as she prayed the fire was suddenly extinguished. Then Aspasius the vicar caused a sword to be plunged into her throat, and thus she perished in the year 305. Her relations who carried her body to burial narrowly escaped being stoned by the infuriated mob of pagans. 21st January.

Attribute

  • Lamb, usually carried in the arms.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Agnes”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 April 2017. Web. 27 May 2017. <>