Agnes, virgin and martyr, is one of the oldest saints of Rome. Her
legend is described in the fifth century Acts: St. Agnes was born c. 291
A.D. into Roman nobility, into a Christian family. While a young girl she
refused a number of suitors to remain faithful to her vow of chastity.
As punishment she was put in a brothel, but her virginity was miraculously
preserved - all men who looked at her nakedness became blind; when she
was publicly stripped naked, her long hair hid her body (according to another
version of the story: an angel covered her with a white cloak). After many
such humiliations she was finally sentenced to death in c. 350 A.D. by
burning at the stake, however the wood would not light. The officer in
charge of the execution then drew his sword and drove it through her throat
(according to other sources: beheaded her). After her death she appeared
to her parents accompanied by a white lamb. This and a resemblance of her
name to agnus (lamb) made a lamb her principal emblem. Two Roman Churches,
the church of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura and the church of Sant’Agnese in
Agone claim relics of her head and body.
St. Agnes is the patron saint of betrothed and young girls. Feast:
See: Hans Baldung The
Three Kings Altarpiece.
Hieronymus Bosch Epiphany.
El Greco. Madonna
and Child with St. Martina and St. Agnes.
Jusepe de Ribera. St.
By Sergey Mataev and Olga Mataev
Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford Paperback Reference) by
David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press, 2003.
Golden Legend by Jacobus De Voragine, William Granger Ryan
(Translator). Princeton Univ Pr, 1995.
Who They Are and How They Help You: More Than 150 of the Heavenly and Holy
from St. Agnes to St. Zita
by Elizabeth Hallam (Editor). Simon & Schuster, 1994.