The tragic story of Saint Agnes can teach us much about the need to examine our own relationships.
Agnes was a beautiful young girl in ancient Rome, born into nobility and raised in a strong Christian family during a time when the Emperor sought to extinguish the flame of Christianity. Even so, Agnes was well liked by her peers at a young age and would often travel around the city visiting with friends, accompanied by her foster-sister Emerentiana. While many knew her and her family, it was her stunning appearance that attracted the attention of many suitors. Her long black hair, fair skin and dark brown eyes were talked about by men of the highest rank.
However, as beneficial it would have been for her to marry any man who approached her, she refused them all. She could see through their many advances and recognized that their hearts were full of lust. Besides, in her eyes she was already “taken” by God and desired to live a pure and chaste life.
One day another suitor stopped by, this time the son of an influential Roman prefect. A prideful young man, he was sure that Agnes would marry him, especially because of his high status. She flat-out refused him, twice. This enraged his father who quickly informed the local authorities that Agnes was a Christian. Initially hindered by Roman law (which did not allow the execution of a virgin) any attempts to harm her purity failed. A new ruling was made and the officials sentenced her to a cruel death.
The city was shocked by the news of the execution of such a precious little lamb and it is believed that her death contributed to the end of the Christian persecution.
The tragic story of Agnes, a beautiful young girl who was killed for her unwillingness to accept the proposals of a powerful man, can teach us much about the need to examine our own relationships. Above all things, Agnes wanted to preserve her religious beliefs and purity of heart and refused to back down when under pressure. These men who approached her were clearly fueled by their sinful passions and were dumbfounded when she wouldn’t give in.
In our own lives, too often we think that in order to find love we must lower our standards. We might think that there needs to be a “give and take” in our relationships when it comes to our purity. A boyfriend, girlfriend or fiance might suggest, “Let’s move in together;” and we might respond, “Why not, it is the 21st century?”
What Agnes teaches us is that we shouldn’t have to buckle under the pressures of the world and that it is possible to stand strong in our faith, even when everyone is against us. We don’t need to buy into a superficial love, but should aim for something much higher that truly satisfies. She is a great example for us and for all engaged couples, inspiring us to remain faithful to our beliefs and cling closely to the love of God.
If you are engaged (or about to be engaged) and struggling with purity and are afraid to approach your loved one about it, pray to Saint Agnes of Rome. She knows the pressure you are under and will intercede for you on your behalf, giving you the strength to do what seems impossible.
O glorious St. Agnes,
you served God in humility and confidence on earth
and are now in the enjoyment of His beatific Vision in heaven
because you persevered till death
and gained the crown of eternal life.
Remember now the dangers
that surround me in the vale of tears,
and intercede for me in my needs and troubles. Amen.