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

But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

Friday, February 05, 2010

Saint Agatha , Virgin and Martyr

Today is the feast of Saint Agatha, who was martyred in 251 in Catania, Sicily. She died about a half-century before Saint Agnes and slightly precedes her in the Nobis quoque peccatoribus of the Traditional Mass. Even more than Saint Agnes, little is known with certitude about today's saint, beyond the fact of her martyrdom and her veneration by the early Church.

The story of the two saints is similar. Saint Agatha was a bit older, in her mid-teens or early 20s, with a reputation for great beauty. She attracted the attention of a Roman official in Sicily during the time of the Decian persecution. When she refused his advances, he delivered her to a pagan woman named Aphrodisia, who for a month tried to persuade Agatha to apostatize, with promises of a life of ease of she would yield and warnings of grievous torments if she would not. When Aphrodisia concluded that she would not be able to persuade Agatha, the Roman official (Quintianus) put her in prison, and tried to coerce her into submitting using the anti-Christian laws then in effect, and then tortured more viciously when she still refused, until finally she died in the midst of her torments. She is sometimes depicted in art with her breasts cut off.

By some accounts St. Peter appeared to her with an angel during her torments to heal and comfort her. St. Agatha in turn is said to have interceded for Christians in later centuries, a demonstration of the bond of charity that unites the body of Christ from generation to generation. Her merits and prayers are credited with quieting Mount Aetna when it threatened to erupt, and with saving Malta from invasion by Turkey.

In addition to being remembered in the Mass, Pope Pius XI honored her in 1934 by making her church in Rome a Stational church (Third Tuesday in Lent).

Saint Agatha
My fellow Christians, our annual celebration of a martyr’s feast has brought us together. Agatha achieved renown in the early Church for her noble victory. ...For her, Christ’s death was recent, his blood was still moist. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ. ...Agatha, the name of our saint, means “good.” She was truly good, for she lived as a child of God. ...Agatha, her goodness coincides with her name and her way of life. She won a good name by her noble deeds, and by her name she points to the nobility of those deeds. Agatha, her mere name wins all men over to her company. She teaches them by her example to hasten with her to the true Good, God alone.
- from a homily on Saint Agatha by Saint Methodius of Sicily

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