- affianced couples
- betrothed couples
- bodily purity
- Children of Mary
- Colegio Capranica of Rome
- engaged couples
- Girl Scouts
- Manresa, Spain
- rape victims
- Rockville Centre, New York
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. St. Agnes is one of seven women, who along with the Blessed Virgin, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, engaged couples, rape survivors, virgins, and the Children of Mary.
Agnes is depicted in art with a lamb, as the Latin word for “lamb”, agnus, sounds like her name. The name “Agnes” is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective hagnē (ἁγνή) meaning “chaste, pure, sacred”.
According to tradition, Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility born in AD 291 and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve or thirteen during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, on 21 January 304.
Agnes was a beautiful young girl of wealthy family and therefore had many suitors of high rank. Details of her story are unreliable, but legend holds that the young men, slighted by her resolute devotion to religious purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity.
There is then a trial from which Sempronius excuses himself, and another figure presides, sentencing her to death. When led out to die she was tied 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.
Agnes was buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome. A few days after her death, her foster-sister, Saint 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 canonized. The daughter of Constantine I, Saint Constance, was also said to have been cured of leprosy after praying at Agnes’ tomb.
St. Agnes’s bones are conserved beneath the high altar in the church of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura in Rome, 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.
St. Agnes has the patronage of the following