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Saint Agatha’s Story
As in the case of Agnes, another virgin-martyr of the early Church, almost nothing is historically certain about this saint except that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251.
Legend has it that Agatha, like Agnes, was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.
She is claimed as the patroness of both Palermo and Catania. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
St. Agatha, also known as Agatha of Sicily, is one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of the Catholic Church. It is believed that she was born around 231 in either Catania or Palermo, Sicily to a rich and noble family.
From her very early years, the notably beautiful Agatha dedicated her life to God. She became a consecrated virgin, a state in life where young women choose to remain celibate and give themselves wholly to Jesus and the Church in a life of prayer and service. That did not stop men from desiring her and making unwanted advances toward her.
However, one of the men who desired Agatha, whose name was Quintianus, because he was of a high diplomatic ranking, thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and force her to marry. His persistent proposals were consistently spurned by Agatha, so Quintianus, knowing she was a Christian during the persecution of Decius, had her arrested and brought before the judge. He was the Judge.
He expected her to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death, but she simply reaffirmed her belief in God by praying: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.” With tears falling from her eyes, she prayed for courage.
The scientific modern mind winces at the thought of a volcano’s might being contained by God because of the prayers of a Sicilian girl. Still less welcome, probably, is the notion of that saint being the patroness of such varied professions as those of foundry workers, nurses, miners and Alpine guides. Yet, in our historical precision, have we lost an essential human quality of wonder and poetry, and even our belief that we come to God by helping each other, both in action and prayer?
Saint Agatha is the Patron Saint of:
Diseases of the Breast