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Saint of the Day: St. Agnes

“To you to be punished, but old enough for a martyr’s crown”

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Virgin and Martyr (d. 304)

Her life

+ Agnes—whose name means “lamb”—suffered martyrdom during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian.

+ According to ancient and reliable traditions, she was around 12 years of age when she died and she is one of the most celebrated Roman martyrs. Reflecting on her death, Saint Ambrose wrote, “she went to the place of execution, more cheerfully than others go to their wedding.”

+ Agnes was buried on the Via Nomentana and the Emperor Constantine built a basilica in her honor over her tomb. Her feast has been celebrated by the Church since around the year 350 and her name is included in the Roman Canon (the “First Eucharistic Prayer”).

For prayer and reflection

A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valour despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.”—Saint Ambrose of Milan

Spiritual bonus

January 21 marks the anniversary of the death of Venerable Angeline McCrory, the foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. An immigrant from Ireland, Mother Angeline dedicated her life to serving the elderly and poor in New York until her death in 1984. She was declared “Venerable” in 2012.

Vocations

To learn about the Sisters of St. Agnes, visit: www.csasisters.org

Prayer

Almighty ever-living God,
who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong,
mercifully grant,
that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes,
may follow her constancy in the faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

Access our archives of daily saint biographies here
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