Saturday, January 21, 2012

St Agnes the Child Martyr

I find the little skull of St Agnes in her church in Piazza Navona very moving because it is so obviously the skull of a small child.

Saint Ambrose says:
Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of St Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet she is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs. In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck. You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned. His right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl's peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a double martydom, to modesty and to religion; St Agnes preserved her virginity and gained a martyr's crown."
The age of the child martyr is not dead in Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, in China and East Asia children suffer and die for the Catholic faith.


Adulio said...

Very moving of the martyrdom of St. Agnes.

I shudder at my own sins, when I read this.

Supertradmum said...

Martyrdom is becoming a daily news item. The beautiful relic reminds us that children can be holy, and are so vulnerable.

I love the Piazza Navona and have happy memories of being there for the Feast of Epiphany years ago. The streets were full of children choosing presents with their parents. Little Agnes could have been one of those children. We are so fortunate to have her as an example of virtue, especially fortitude, in the face of hatred. God bless all the Christian children.

Amfortas said...

An example to us all. I too shudder at my own sins. Thank heavens for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

For some years now, in a home here in the Philippines for girls where most have been abused, we have combined the celebration of the Feast of St Agnes with that of Blessed Laura Vicuña (5 April 1891-22 January 1904), whose feast day is the day after that of St Agnes' Their dates are strikingly parallel: (St Agnes, 291-204). Blessed Laura offered her life for the conversion of her mother, living with a man who wasn't her husband and who tried to violate the young girl. Fr John Murray, a parish priest in Belfast, tells her story: