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Saint Agatha

Saint Agatha
  • Century: 3rd Century
  • Patronage: Breast Cancer, Bakers, Earthquakes, Jewelers, Martyrs, Natural Disasters, Nurses, Rape victims,
  • Feast Day: February 5th

Patronage – Breast Cancer, Bakers, Earthquakes, Jewelers, Martyrs, Natural Disasters, Nurses, Rape victims, Single Laywomen, Torture Victims, Several Countries

St. Agatha was born in Catania, Sicily and was martyred in approximately 253.  She is one of the seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.  Information about her life is included in the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum”.  Her written legend gives accounts of interrogation, torture, resistance, and triumph, which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature.  

According to legend, St. Agatha dedicated her virginity to God.  She was from a family of wealth and nobility, and she rejected advances of young men from nobility to get married.  One of those young men was the Roman Prefect Quintianus.  Quintianus persecuted her for her Christian faith, trying to get her to change her mind.  She was given to Aphrodisia, the keeper of the brothel, and her nine daughters, but in response to their threats to sacrifice to the idols and submit to Quintianus, St. Agatha responded, “My courage and my thought be so firmly founded upon the firm stone of Jesus Christ, that for no pain it may not be changed, your words be but wind, your promises be but rain, and your menaces be as rivers that pass, and how well that all these things hurtle at the fundament of my courage, yet for that it shall not move”.  

She attacked the Roman pagan images as idols with philosophical arguments, saying the idols were not gods, but were devils that were in the idols.  Quintianus told her to choose one or two, or do sacrifice to our gods, or she would suffer pain and torments.  She refused, and he decided that she would suffer torments.  She said that she would rather suffer the torments for a short time, than to give up her faith in Christ.  Among the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts.  An apparition of St. Peter cured her of this. Her scorned admirer eventually sentenced her to death by be rolled naked on a bed of live coals.  She escaped this torment alive as well.  She eventually died in prison according to the “Legenda Aurea” in the year 253.  St. Agatha is buried at Badia di Sant’ Agata, in Catania.  

Practical Take Away

St. Agatha was a born in Sicily, and was born into a family of wealth and nobility.  She converted to Christianity, and pledged her virginity to God.  Quintianus, the Roman Prefect, approached her for marriage because of her beauty.  She refused him, and he felt scorned.  He made her choose between God and his idols, hoping she would denounce her Christianity.  She would not, so he had her tortured.  She escaped the brutal torture twice, and eventually died in prison at the age of 22.  She was martyred for her faith, and is one of the seven women excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary as being commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.