FEast: Feb. 5th
bakers, breast cancer, nurses, jewelers, rape survivors, natural disasters
Agatha was born to a noble Sicilian family, according to legend, and dedicated her life to God from an early age. During Emperor Decius’ Christian persecution, she is said to have fled to Malta with several friends, living in a rock crypt and teaching children about Christianity, before returning to Sicily. When she returned at age 15, Roman senator Quintianus was determined to force her to marry him instead. She refused him, and so he turned her in during Emperor Decius’ Christian persecution, but he was the governor and therefore acting judge of the region. He had her imprisoned in a brothel, but this was not able to sway Agatha’s steadfastness, and so he threatened her with torture. Though she cried, she still refused, and he ordered her to be thrown into a regular prison.
There she was stretched out and burned, whipped, and had her skin torn, but because she still had such courage, he ordered that her breasts be cut off. Though she was sent back to prison with no food or medical aid, St. Peter appeared to her there and healed her wounds. She was threatened then to be burnt at the stake, but an earthquake happened, making this impossible. So, she was instead condemned to be stripped and rolled across hot coals mixed with sharp shards. Because she still fought back against Quintianus with fiery rebukes, she remained imprisoned and eventually died from her tortures.
The year after her death, Mount Etna was about to erupt but did not, and this was attributed to Agatha, making her a patron saint of Palermo. She has been venerated in many Western European cultures with various feasts and traditions, though there is nothing based in historic fact to prove her existence.
Until the day that each person can be viewed as a whole, equal person rather than an object or a “temptation”, we ask for your help. protect us from those who do not practice self control, and from those whose minds have been shaped by twisted ideas rather than reality. Allow us to still embrace our identities and lives despite these fears. Amen.
Agatha wears a dress featuring the image of a Japanese Woodblock print of a volcano for her volcanic patronage, and her earrings are palm leaves - traditional symbols of martyrdom. On her arm is a tattoo of tongs (the method by which her breasts were removed) and she also bears mastectomy scars. Though she is choosing to feel the pain, her face has a quiet peace.