Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

St. Agnes

Feast day: January 21

Young Saint Agnes is one of the most famous of the early Roman martyrs. Her name means 'lamb' or 'victim' in Latin and 'pure' in Greek. Remember that Jesus is sometimes called the “lamb of God.”

Agnes lived in Rome at a time (304) when it was against the law to be Christian. She was young, wealthy and beautiful. Agnes had made a promise, a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse."

Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He had 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 me!" 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.

A basilica was built in her honor over the place where she was buried about 50 years after she died. For centuries, two lambs have been brought to the church and blessed every year. The lambs are then reared in a cloister. When they have grown into sheep, their wool is used to make stoles. The Pope sends these stoles to archbishops to wear on their shoulders as symbols of the sheep carried by the Good Shepherd.

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