Fidelity to the Word
Our Lord and His Holy Apostles at the Last Supper

A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist

the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat, this is My Body which shall be delivered for you; this do for the commemoration of Me. In like manner also the chalice...

1 Cointhians 11:23-25

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Octave of St. Agnes

" Now it came to pass, that while the parents of blessed Agnes were spending the night at her tomb, suddenly in the dead silence of night, a bright light shone forth, and they saw an array of virgins passing, all robed in cloth of gold ; and among them they saw also most blessed Agnes, robed like the rest, and at her right hand there stood a lamb whiter than snow. Her parents and all with them, seeing these things, were silent with wonder. But blessed Agnes said to her parents : Do not grieve for me as dead : but rejoice and be glad, because I have gained the mansions of light, as these have done before me, and am united to Him in heaven, whom while on earth I used to love with my whole soul. This said, she passed away.''
- St. Ambrose (AD 340-397)

Saint Agnes (+ 304) is highly honored in traditional Roman calendar, having two feast days. The first was last week, on the 21st. The second is today. St. Agnes was martyred for her faith at a young age, a week before her 13th birthday. Her parents, and others with them, spent the evening of her birthday at her tomb, and there received the vision mentioned above, which is commemorated on this day.

Many other saints besides St. Ambrose have honored the purity and steadfast faith of St. Agnes. Pope Saint Damasus I, who was born about a year after the death of St. Agnes, became Pope at a time when it was no longer so dangerous to be a Christian. He wrote an epitaph for her which was carved in marble and used to mark her tomb, "but through the ages it was lost. Amazingly, it was at last rediscovered in 1728 inside [her] basilica, whole and complete: it had been used upside down, fortunately as a paving stone!" (Fr. Zuhlsdorf).

In the century following her death, Saint Martin of Tours(316-397), Saint Jerome(340-420) and Saint Augustine(354-430) sang her praises. In years after that, Saint Maximus of Turin (+470), Saint Radbod(+918), Saint Peter Damian (+1071), Saint Gertrude (+1334), Saint Birgitta (+1373) and Pope Saint Pius V(+1572) imitated the earlier saints' example of honoring St. Agnes, before following them into glory.

She is invoked with other martyrs in the Nobis quoque peccatoribus shortly before the Pater noster in the traditional Mass. I used to hear her name regularly even in the new Mass at our parish in the 1970's, but not any more. Despite being so honored, I hardly knew anything about St. Agnes until last week. In order to better honor the saints whom we venerate in the TLM, I hope to read and write a little about each one mentioned in the Ordinary.

"O Saint Agnes, thou who dost follow the Lamb in thy delicate beauty, who dost exult in being a captive in the bonds of His love, in having received the sweet pledge of His faithfulness, and in being brought into His secret chamber, obtain for me that I may be inflamed like Thee with love of Jesus, my Spouse."
- Saint Gertrude (+1334)

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