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Thursday, 21 June 2012

St. Agatha, Virgin and Martr

Artist Rendition of St. Agatha's Martyrdom
St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Her story
Agatha, daughter of a distinguished family and remarkable for her beauty of person, was persecuted by the Senator Quintianus with avowals of love. As his proposals were resolutely spurned by the pious Christian virgin, he committed her to the charge of an evil woman, whose seductive arts, however, were baffled by Agatha's unswerving firmness in the Christian faith. Quintianus then had her subjected to various cruel tortures.  Especially inhuman seemed his order to have her breasts cut off, a detail which furnished to the Christian medieval iconography the peculiar characteristic of Agatha.  But the holy virgin was consoled by a vision of St. Peter, who miraculously healed her.  Eventually she succumbed to the repeated cruelties practiced on her.  

“After suffering the most severe torments humanly imaginable, so terrible that even the townspeople--Christian, Jewish, and pagan--demonstrated against the governor, St. Agatha was crowned gloriously with sacred martyrdom on the 5th day of February. “

Both Catania and Palermo claim the honour of being Agatha's birthplace. Her feast is kept on 5 February; her office in the Roman Breviary is drawn in part from the Latin Acts.  Catania honours St. Agatha as her patron saint, and throughout the region around Mt. Etna she is invoked against the eruptions of the volcano, as elsewhere against fire and lightning.  In some places bread and water are blessed during Mass on her feast after the Consecration, and called Agatha bread.
First Century Mosaic of St. Agatha

Excerpt taken from New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia
APA citation. Kirsch, J.P. (1907). St. Agatha.  In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  Retrieved May 25, 2012 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01203c.htm 
and  
All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Mission:  http://www.allmercifulsavior.com/icons/Icons-Agatha.htm