Friday, 5 February 2010

St Agatha V & M

Today we celebrate one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, put to death for her steadfast profession of faith in Catania, Sicily during the persecution of Decius (250-253). Her veneration as a saint had even in antiquity spread beyond her native place and her Acts of Martyrdom were written both in Latin and in Greek showing devotion tie her in both West and East.
Agatha, daughter of a distinguished family and remarkable for her beauty of person, was persecuted by the Senator Quintianus with avowals of love. As his proposals were resolutely spurned by the pious Christian virgin, he committed her to the charge of a prostitute, whose seductive arts, however, were baffled by Agatha's unswerving firmness in the Christian faith. Quintianus then had her subjected to various cruel tortures as a result of which she died.
The all night long procession with her relics in Catania

This young lady (most probably in her mid teens) took by storm the Christian world of her time because of her courage and love of God and countless Christians celebrate her memorial today.
Throughout the region around Mt. Etna in Sicily she is invoked against the eruptions of the volcano, as elsewhere against fire and lightning. In some places bread and water are blessed during Mass on her feast after the Consecration, and called Agatha bread.
Agatha is one of the female saints mentioned in the Canon of the Mass (Prayer I).
In England you can also find churches dedicated to St Agatha, one going back to the 12th century. You can find more about some of these churches here, here and here.

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