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Saint of the Day for 21 January: St. Agnes

St. Agnes: History, Symbolism and Legacy of the Christian Martyr


St. Agnes


Virgin and martyr


III Century, Rome


4th Century, Rome


21 January


2004 edition



What a beautiful triumph was yours, O admirable Saint Agnes, when condemned by Aspasius to be burned alive at the very tender age of thirteen, you saw the flames divide around you to leave you unharmed in the middle, and then rush against the impious ones who desired your death! Deh for that wholly heavenly joy with which you received the extreme blow, animating yourself the executioner to plant in your bosom the sword that was to accomplish your sacrifice, impose on us all the grace of sustaining with edifying resignation all the persecutions and crosses with which it pleased the Lord to try us, and to go growing in his love to seal with the death of the righteous a constantly mortified life.

Patron of

Somma Lombardo, Pineto, Olginate, Corropoli, Castel Guelfo di Bologna, Sondalo, Masciago Primo, Treppo Ligosullo


Of hair, girlfriends, gardeners, virgins

Relics place

Basilica of St. Agnes outside the walls

Roman Martyrology

In Rome the passion of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, who, under Sympronius, Prefect of the city, thrown into the fire, and this extinguished for her prayers, was beaten with the sword. Of her thus writes Blessed Jerome: “With the writings and with the tongues of all nations, especially in the churches, was praised the life of Agnes; who conquered both age and tyrant, and by martyrdom consecrated the glory of chastity.”


The Saint and Mission

St. Agnes, one of the most revered figures in the history of Christianity, is an example of dedication and courage that resonates through the centuries. Her life, though short, was marked by a deep and meaningful mission, based on an unwavering faith and a commitment to Christian values that went far beyond her youth. Her choice to remain faithful to her religious principles in the face of extreme challenges and even death speaks of extraordinary inner strength and conviction. St. Agnes’ mission focused not only on maintaining her personal spiritual purity and integrity, but also on being a beacon of hope and inspiration for the Christian community of the time. Her resistance to external pressures and her steadfastness in refusing to compromise showed a shining example of how faith can be lived with total dedication and courage. In St. Agnes we see the personification of the Christian mission to witness to one’s faith, not only through words, but especially through actions. Her story is a powerful reminder that moral strength and fidelity to one’s ideals can transcend age, gender and circumstances, offering an example of how to live and die with dignity and conviction.

The Saint and Mercy

St. Agnes is a figure who embodies mercy in a context of great spiritual strength and courage. Her young life, marked by early martyrdom, reflects not only an immeasurable fidelity to her religious ideals, but also a profound capacity for mercy and understanding. In her, mercy was not only a feeling of compassion toward others, but also a manifestation of her inner strength and ability to forgive those who persecuted her. The story of St. Agnes, through her resistance to the pressures and assaults of the society of her time, reveals a mercy that goes beyond mere pity. It is a mercy that emerges from the strength of staying true to one’s principles, the ability to face injustice with dignity, and the act of forgiving even in the face of extreme adversity. In St. Agnes, mercy is combined with resilience, offering a model of how tenderness and strength can coexist. Her life teaches us that true mercy is an act of strength, a choice to respond to hatred with love, cruelty with understanding, and violence with peace. His legacy continues to inspire, reminding us that at the heart of mercy lies the true power to transform the world into a more compassionate and just place.


Among the countless virgins who sacrificed their lives for the faith of Jesus Christ, St. Agnes emerges as a flower. She was born in Rome to Christian parents, belonging to an illustrious patrician family, toward the end of the third century. As a young girl she consecrated her virginity to the Lord and succeeded in bringing the lily intact before her Divine Bridegroom. Having reached the age of twelve, her wealth and loveliness induced many young men from the noblest Roman families to ask her for marriage. Agnes, however, true to her decision always refused every proposal of marriage, citing that to another Bridegroom much richer and nobler than they were she had given her heart: she was alluding to Jesus Christ. The prefect’s son also fell in love with the young Roman noblewoman Agnes; he offered her jewelry, but she rejected him as well. These rejections of hers, however, made it clear that she was a Christian, and since Diocletian’s persecution was raging in those days, she was accused and arrested. The humble but strong virgin at that tender age was taken to the prefect, who, in order to impress her and induce her to renounce the faith of Jesus Christ, had her chained and threatened her with the most ruthless torments. Agnes did not flinch…


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