This Sunday we celebrate, in a special way, Saint Agnes (of Rome), our patroness, intercessor, co-sojourner, and divine friend. Since the primitive church, her feast is assigned to 21 January (moved one day for our celebratory purposes!).
Agnes was born in Rome and raised in a Christian family. She died a virgin-martyr at the age of 12 or 13 on 21 January 304. She was buried in a Roman catacomb, over which, during the reign of Constantine (306-337), a basilica, Sant'Angese fuori le mura, was erected. The basilica was later remodeled by Pope Honorius (+638), and has since remained unaltered. In the apse is a mosaic showing Agnes amid flames, with a sword at her feet.
Many have sung her praises and extolled her virginity and heroism under torture. The three oldest written testimonies to her martyrdom are those of St. Ambrose (+397), Bishop of Milan, Pope Damasus (+384), and Aurelius Prudentius (413), Roman Christian poet. Prudentius adheres to St. Ambrose' account of death by the sword, but expands the story: the judge threatened to give over her virginity to a house of prostitution for refusing a fixed marriage. For her refusal of such aggression to her innocence, she was killed. In the end, she remained a virgin and obtained the crown of martyrdom. How the gift of faith can make us strong and faith-full and victorious. Indeed, by it, one can move mountains...
St. Agnes, the patron saint of young girls and rape survivors, is depicted in the mural above our main altar. She is the second figure from the left, and below her are symbolic representations of her innocence and martyrdom: a lamb ("agnus" in Latin) and a palm branch.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
Yours on the journey with her,
From the desk of the Rector