Dominican Nun and Mystic, ca. 1270-1317
+ Agnes was born into a wealthy family in the Tuscan village of Gracchiano-Vecchio. Her first biographer was the Dominican friar Blessed Raymond of Capua.
+ As a young girl she entered a local religious community, the “Sisters of the Sack” (so called because of the rough fabric from which their clothes were made). Some years later, although she was still quite young, the sisters opened a new convent near Viterbo and Agnes served this community as treasurer and superior.
+ Agnes was known for her remarkable—and sometimes excessive—spirit of penance. It is related that she experienced visions and worked miracles to feed the sisters when there was not enough food. Despite her fame, Agnes remained a simple woman with a humble spirituality rooted in her love of Jesus and Mary.
+ In time, the sisters opened another community—this time in Montepulciano—which was placed under the care of the recently formed Order of Preachers (the Dominicans). Agnes became prioress and was happy to have her convent associated with a larger, recognized religious order.
+ Agnes died on April 20, 1317, and was canonized in 1726.
Saint Agnes of Montepulciano is honored as the patron saint of the city of Siena, Italy, which was the home of another famous Dominican saint: Saint Catherine of Siena. Blessed Raymond of Capua—the biographer of Agnes of Montepulciano—also wrote the first biographer of Saint Catherine.
“A heart and sense that are full of this world and of self-love cannot be filled with Christ crucified and cannot taste true and sweet prayer. Understanding this, the sweet Agnes, stripped herself of herself and put on Christ crucified. She did this not only for herself, but for us as well. Her example obliges you to follow it steadfastly.” —Saint Catherine of Siena (writing to a nun of Montepulciano about Saint Agnes)
Hear us, God our Savior, that, as we rejoice in commemorating the Virgin blessed Agnes, we may be instructed by her loving devotion. 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: Common of Virgins)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.