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St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Feast Day:
February 5 (A.D. 251)

St. Agatha belonged to a noble family and was a native of Sicily. She had extraordinary beauty and consecrated herself to God in her tender years.

Quintianus, the governor of Sicily, proposed marriage to the innocent virgin. Because of her vow of chastity, Agatha refused and he, angered by her refusal, had her arrested and brought before him in Catana in compliance with the Emperor’s decree against Christians.

St. Agatha - Virgin and Martyr

Seeing herself in the hands of her persecutors, Agatha made this prayer: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, You see my heart, You know my desire — possess alone all that I am. I am Your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil.” She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way as she was led to Quintianus.

After her continual refusal, Quintianus gave orders for Agatha to be put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who had six daughters — all prostitutes — in the hopes that he could weaken her resolve to remain a virgin.

In this infamous place, the sweet saint suffered assaults against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures, or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she was immovable in her resolution to maintain both her Faith and her virginity.

After being there thirty days, Quintianus was informed that Agatha would continue to resist his proposal so he ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin told him “Better by far is the lowliness and slavery of a Christian than the wealth and pride of kings.” Offended at her adamant answers, he commanded her to be beaten and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, offering up her future conflict to God.

The next day Agatha was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches.

The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breasts to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. Agatha stated this admonishment: “Cruel tyrant, art thou not ashamed to cut a woman’s breast, who wast thyself fed at the breast of thy mother?” He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her.

But God Himself would be her physician, and the apostle St. Peter, in a vision, comforted her, healed all her wounds, and filled her dungeon with a Heavenly light.

Four days later, not the least bit moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, Quintianus ordered Agatha to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken pottery.

Suddenly the whole city was shaken by a violent earthquake, and two of the governor’s intimate friends were killed by the falling of two walls. The people were in such a state of fear that the governor, fearing sedition, ordered the almost lifeless Agatha taken back to prison. Once there, she made this prayer: “O God! Who hast watched over me from my infancy, Who hast separated me from the love of this world, and hast given me strength to bear the tortures of my executioners, receive my soul!” After which words she sweetly expired.

Because Agatha died on February 5, the Church observes her feast on that day. St. Agatha’s name is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.

Victories of the Martyrs

by St. Alphonsus de Liguori

If you are interested in learning more about the inspiring lives and heroic deaths of a number of great martyred saints, why not purchase Victories of the Martyrs by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

A gem about saints written by a saint.