Agnes of Rome

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Saint Agnes
2872-saint-agnes-domenichino.jpg
Saint Agnes by Domenichino
Virgin and Martyr
Bornc. 291
Rome, Italy
Diedc. 304
Rome, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism
Canonized Pre-congregation
Major shrine Church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, both in Rome
Feast 21 January; before Pope John XXIII revised the calendar, there was a second feast on January 28
Attributes a lamb, martyr's palm
Patronage Betrothed couples; chastity and virgins; Children of Mary; Colegio Capranica of Rome; gardeners; Girl Guides; the diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; the city of Fresno.

Agnes of Rome (c. 291 – c. 304) is a virgin martyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She is one of seven women who, along with the Blessed Virgin, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Saint one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue

A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Anglican Communion International association of churches

The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion. Founded in 1867 in London, England, the communion currently has 85 million members within the Church of England and other national and regional churches in full communion. The traditional origins of Anglican doctrines are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). The Archbishop of Canterbury in England acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares, but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England.

Contents

Agnes is depicted in art with a lamb, evoking her name which resembles the Latin word for "lamb", agnus (the given name is Greek, from hagnē ἁγνή "chaste, pure"). She is also shown with a martyr's palm. She is the patron saint of girls [1] and chastity.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Patron saint saint regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person

A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.

Chastity sexual conduct of a person that is deemed praiseworthy and virtuous

Chastity is a virtue related to temperance, one of the seven Christian virtues and it is defined as refraining from any sexual conduct or romantic relationships. Chastity is usually defined within the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization or religion. The term is closely associated with sexual abstinence, especially in the context of premarital and extramarital sex.

Agnes' feast day is 21 January.

Biography

Substantially the circumstances of her martyrdom are believed to be authentic, though the legend cannot be proven true, and many details of the fifth century Acts of Saint Agnes are open to criticism. [2] A church was built over her tomb, and her relics venerated. [3]

According to tradition, Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility, born in AD 291 and raised in an early Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve [4] or thirteen during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, on 21 January 304.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilisation began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Diocletian Augustus of the Eastern Roman Empire

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.

A beautiful young girl from a wealthy family, Agnes had many suitors of high rank, and the young men, slighted by her resolute devotion to religious purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity. [5]

The Prefect Sempronius condemned Agnes to be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel. In one account, as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body. [6] It was also said that all of the men that attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind. The son of the prefect was struck dead but revived after she prayed for him, causing her release. There commenced a trial from which Sempronius recused himself, allowing another figure to preside and sentence St. Agnes to death. She was led out and bound to a stake, but the bundle of wood would not burn, or the flames parted away from her, whereupon the officer in charge of the troops drew his sword and beheaded her, or, in some other texts, stabbed her in the throat. It is also said that her blood poured to the stadium floor where other Christians soaked it up with cloths.

Prefect Magisterial title

Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition, but essentially refers to the leader of an administrative area.

A sword is a bladed, melee weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Decapitation complete separation of the head from the body

Decapitation is the complete separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is fatal to humans and animals, since it deprives all other organs of the involuntary functions that are needed for the body to function, while the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood and blood pressure.

Agnes depicted on the medieval Royal Gold Cup in the British Museum. Agnes & Procopius.jpg
Agnes depicted on the medieval Royal Gold Cup in the British Museum.

Agnes was buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome. [5] A few days after her death, her foster-sister, Emerentiana, was found praying by her tomb; she claimed to be the daughter of Agnes' wet nurse, and was stoned to death after refusing to leave the place and reprimanding the pagans for killing her foster-sister. Emerentiana was also later canonised. The daughter of Constantine I, Saint Constance, was said to have been cured of leprosy after praying at Agnes' tomb. She and Emerentiana appear in the scenes from the life of Agnes on the 14th-century Royal Gold Cup in the British Museum.

An early account of Agnes' death, stressing her young age, steadfastness and virginity, but not the legendary features of the tradition, is given by Ambrose. [4]

Veneration

Agnes was venerated as a saint at least as early as the time of St Ambrose, based on an existing homily. She is commemorated in the Depositio Martyrum of Filocalus (354) and in the early Roman Sacramentaries. [7]

Agnes' bones are conserved beneath the high altar in the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome, [8] built over the catacomb that housed her tomb. Her skull is preserved in a separate chapel in the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone in Rome's Piazza Navona.

Her feast day is 21 January.

Patronage

Because of the legend around her martyrdom, she is patron saint of those seeking chastity and purity. [3]

Agnes is also the patron saint of young girls. Folk custom called for them to practise rituals on Saint Agnes' Eve (20–21 January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. This superstition has been immortalised in John Keats's poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes". [9]

Santa Ines, Guarino, 1650. Fr Guarino Santa Ines 1650.jpg
Santa Inés, Guarino, 1650.

Iconography

Since the Middle Ages, Agnes has traditionally been depicted as a young girl in robes, with a lamb, the symbol of her virginal innocence, [10] and often, like many other martyrs, with a palm branch.

Churches

The purported skull of Saint Agnes, as displayed in the Sant'Agnese in Agone church in Rome Skull Saint Agnes.JPG
The purported skull of Saint Agnes, as displayed in the Sant'Agnese in Agone church in Rome

Legacy

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes is a Roman Catholic religious community for women based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA. It was founded in 1858, by Father Caspar Rehrl, an Austrian missionary, who established the sisterhood of pioneer women under the patronage of Agnes, to whom he had a particular devotion.

It is customary on her feast day for two lambs to be brought from the Trappist abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome to the Sant'Agnese in Agone church to be blessed by the Pope. On Holy Thursday they are shorn, and from the wool is woven the pallium which the pope gives to a newly consecrated metropolitan archbishop as a sign of his jurisdiction and his union with the pope. [5] [13]

Hrotsvitha, the tenth-century nun and poet, wrote a heroic poem about Agnes. [14]

In the historical novel Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs , written by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman in 1854, Agnes is the soft-spoken teenage cousin and confidant of the protagonist, the beautiful noblewoman Fabiola. [15]

The instrumental song "Saint Agnes and the Burning Train" appears on the 1991 album 'The Soul Cages' by Sting.

The song “Bear’s Vision of St. Agnes” appears on the 2012 album ‘Ten Stories’ by rock band mewithoutYou.

See also

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References

  1. "Saint Agnes", Franciscan Media
  2. Monks of Ramsgate. "Agnes". Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 May 2012
  3. 1 2 "St. Agnes", Faith ND, University of Notre Dame
  4. 1 2 "NPNF210. Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Ccel.org. 2005-06-01. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
  5. 1 2 3 "St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr". St. Agnes Cathedral.
  6. "St. Agnes of Rome". Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
  7. Duffy, Patrick. "Jan 21 – St Agnes (d. 305) martyr", Catholic Ireland, 21 January 2012
  8. "Virginmartyr Agnes of Rome", Orthodox Church in America
  9. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Agnes, Saint". Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 377.
  10. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Agnes of Rome".
  11. "History", St. Agnes Cathedral
  12. Church of St Agnes, English Heritage National Monuments
  13. "Pope modifies and enriches Pallium Investiture Ceremony". Vatican Radio. January 29, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  14. https://archive.org/details/nondramaticworks00hrot/page/236
  15. Librivox. "LibriVox". librivox.org. Retrieved 2018-03-16.