Virgin and Martyr (230-251)

According to very pious tradition and legend, St. Agatha was born in the island of Sicily on about the year 230 of noble parents and was martyred in Catania, in the year 251.

When the Roman emperor Decius issued a decree persecuting Christians, the local consul Quintian (governor of Sicily), who had long harbored lustful feelings for Agatha, tried to force his attentions on her and desired to obtain her inheritance, used the opportunity to bring her to trial on suspicion of being a Christian and force her to renounce her faith.

Quintian tried to break Agatha’s vow of purity by having her live for a month in a brothel. All efforts to dissuade Agatha failed.  Despite the pressures place upon her, Agatha survived this ordeal, placing all her trust in the power of God.

The consul then ordered that she be beaten and that her breasts be crushed an cut off. Afterward, Agatha was consigned to prison where Saint Peter appeared to her in a dazzling light and healed her wounds.

At finding her cured the next day Quintian asks her: “Who has cured you?”. To which she replied: “I was cured through the power of Jesus Christ”. Quintian screams in rage: “How dare you speak the name of Jesus, when you know it is forbidden?”.  “You can only offer sacrifices to the Roman gods”. To which Agatha responds: “Do you think, you fool, that I would adore figures of stone, and deny the God of heavens who healed me?”.

Then Quintian ordered that her body be dragged over a field of broken shards and burning coals. During this final torture Agatha gives thanks to God for the strength to preserve her virginity, uphold her faith, and defy her persecutors by saying: “Oh my Lord and Creator, I give You thanks for having protected me from the cradle. I give You thanks for having guided me away from what is evil, lustful and worldly. I give You thanks for the strength to support my sufferings. And now into your awaiting arms I commend my spirit. “Having said this she died, it was the 5th of February of the year 251.  Her name has been retained in the Roman Canon of the Mass in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

Agatha means “good” or “virtuous”. St. Agatha is the patroness of nurses, firemen and women suffering from breast cancer.

Prayer to Saint Agatha

O Heavenly Father, Who raised Agatha to the dignity of Sainthood, we implore Your Divine Majesty by her intercession to give us health of mind, body and soul. Free us from all those things which hold us bound to this earth, and let our spirit, like hers, rise to your heavenly courts. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You, forever. Amen.

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