Feastday: January 21st
Patron of: young girls, chastity, rape survivors, and the Children of Mary
St. Agnes of Rome was born in 291 AD and raised in a Christian family. Agnes was very beautiful and
belonged to a wealthy family. Her hand in marriage was highly sought after, and she had many high ranking
men chasing after her. However, Agnes made a promise to God never to stain her purity.
Whenever a man wished to marry Agnes, she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse."
According to legend, the young men she turned away became so angry and insulted by her devotion to God
and purity that they began to submit her name to authorities as a Christian follower.
In one incident, Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He tried to win her
for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, "I am already promised to
the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave
In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The
Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to
change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy.
Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the
pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her
wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. "I would offend my Spouse,"
she said, "if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and
bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.
Other accounts of Agnes' life hold the Prefect Sempronius responsible for her martyrdom. It is said he
condemned the young girl to be dragged through the streets naked. Some versions of the legend state that
Agnes' hair grew instantly to cover her entire body and all the men who attempted to rape the beautiful virgin
were immediately struck blind.
The stories go on to explain that another man presided over Agnes' trial after Sempronius excused himself.
The new man sentenced Agnes to death. At first, Agnes was tied to a stake, but either the wood would not
burn or the flames parted away from her. This prompted an officer to draw his sword and behead the girl. It
is believed that her blood, which poured out to the stadium, was soaked up with cloths by Christians.
Prayer to St. Agnes
O Little St. Agnes, so young and yet made so strong and wise by the power of God, protect by your prayers all the young people of every place whose goodness and purity are threatened by the evils and impurities of this world.
Give them strength in temptation and a true repentance when they fail. Help them to find true Christian friends to accompany them in following the Lamb of God and finding safe pastures in His Church and in her holy sacraments.
May you lead us to the wedding banquet of heaven to rejoice with you and all the holy virgin martyrs in Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever.