January 21: Feast of St. Agnes

As is true with all the early Christian martyrs, we see in St. Agnes an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ, which enabled her (and them) to defy worldly authority and follow Christ fully. Saint Agnes is also known as Agnes of Rome, Ines, Ines del Campo, and Ynez. The name “Agnes” is similar to the Latin word agnus, which means “lamb.” For this reason, many depictions of Saint Agnes include a lamb. Her name more accurately comes from a Greek word which means “chaste, pure, sacred.”

Agnes is one of the “virgin martyrs” of the church of Rome. She is one of seven women, in addition to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who are mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I). Saints Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha,  Lucy, Cecilia, and Anastasia  are the other six.  Agnes is a patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, Girl Scouts, and engaged couples.

Most date Agnes’ martyrdom to the year 304 under the Emperor Diocletian. All sources seem to agree that she was very young, 12-13 years old, when she was martyred on January 21, and so her Feast day is today. It was the custom in the early church to commemorate martyrs on the day of their “birth into eternal life.”

Let us pray. “St. Agnes, by the living faith which animated you from your tender years and rendered you so pleasing to God, obtain for us the grace to keep our faith pure and to profess ourselves Christians in both word and work. May our open confession of Jesus before others cause Him to bear a favorable witness to us before His eternal Father, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”

For more on St. Agnes: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint/st-agnes-123

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