Feast Day: February 5
Agatha, born in Sicily of noble parents, suffered a glorious martyrdom at Catania in the persecution of the emperor Decius. For when Quintianus, the praetor of Sicily, had vainly tried every means to tempt her from her virginity, he had her arrested as adhering to the Christian superstition. First she was beaten, then tortured on the rack with whitehot iron plates laid on her; then one of her breasts was cut off. Next she was thrown into prison, where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her by night and healed her.
Again called before the praetor, she persevered in confessing Christ, and he had her rolled over broken pottery and burning coals. But then a great earthquake violently shook the city, and Quintianus, afraid of a riot among the people, gave orders that Agatha, now half dead, secretly be taken back to prison. There after a short time she went to Heaven, on February 5.
Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. I: Advent to Passion Sunday (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1761-1762.
Epistle and Gospel for February 5