St. Agnes of Rome, a young girl about the age of 12 or 13 achieved martyrdom on January 21, 304. She is as much a modern saint for today as she ever was. Through the centuries, Christians have looked to this young woman as an example of uncommon virtue not only for her deep love for Christ but her willingness to lay down her life to preserving herself for Him forever.
Early records indicate that fourth-century Pope Damasus praised St. Agnes and held her up to the faithful and even composed a poem about her life. She underwent immense persecution and terrible torture before being beheaded. To Pope Damasus, she embodied great heroic virtue.
“It is told that one day the holy parents recounted that Agnes, when the trumpet sounded its sad tunes, suddenly left the lap of her nurse while still a little girl and willingly trod upon the rage and threats of the cruel tyrant (Emperor Diocletian). Though he desired to burn the noble body in flames, with her little forces she overcame immense fear and gave her loosened hair to cover her naked limbs lest mortal eyes might see the temple of the Lord.” *
In 1901 a silver sarcophagus was found containing the headless bones of a young girl during the excavation of a 16th century Church of St. Agnes. The church continues to hold up her holiness to the faithful and celebrate her virtue today and on her feast day of January 21.
If you want to know how committed the church is to the memory of St. Agnes, you have only to turn to the mass where she is commemorated by name. She is also venerated as a saint throughout the Christian world, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, and among Anglican and Lutheran communities.
A patron saint for many
If you aspire to purity and chastity, this old but modern saint is an intercessor for you. If you care about the lives of virgins and rape victims, she is an intercessor for you. St. Agnes is also the patron saint of girls, engaged couples, gardeners, and even crops. Beloved by young girls, many take her as their confirmation saint.
Say yes to God
But today St. Agnes is also revered as a heroic saint for today's young and old, but especially young people for the manner in which she stood her ground and said Yes to God no matter the consequences. Perhaps that is today, the most important reason any Christian would look to St. Agnes for inspiration and help.
A daily prayer to St. Agnes for today
Saint Agnes, my patroness, who entrusted yourself to God to the end and with joy suffered death by martyrdom for the One who died for all of us, I ask you, humbly, deign to intercede for me in every minute of this day and
obtain for me the grace of selfless service to God and neighbors.
Let your prayer give me comfort in times of trials and torments.
Be my friend in times of loneliness and abandonment, and obtain for me from your Spouse, Jesus Christ, the eternal happiness in Heaven.
Holy innocent virgin, who paid the greatest price for preserving fidelity to Christ, obtain for me the grace of complete purity of the soul and body. Amen.
Saint Agnes, pray for us!
How can St. Agnes help you?
Take a moment to reflect and meditate upon the life of St. Agnes of Rome during prayer time and even during holy hours. For a deeper reflection and understanding, you might try spiritual journaling. If you've never thought about journaling as a way to draw closer to God, get the free guide “How to Use a Prayer Journal during Holy Hour here.
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*Pope Damasus inscription about St. Agnes found at the Catacomb of Agnes on the Via Nomentana, located at the foot of the stairs entering the catacombs.