IN THEE, O LORD, have I hoped, let me never be
confounded: deliver me in thy justice.
Bow down thy ear to me: make haste to deliver me.
Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a house of
refuge, to save me.
For thou art my strength and my refuge; and for thy
name’s sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me.
Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which
they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector.
Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed
me, O Lord, the God of truth.
Thou hast hated them that regard vanities, to no
purpose. But I have hoped in the Lord:
I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy. For
thou hast regarded my humility, thou hast saved
my soul out of distresses.
Book of Psalms 31: 2-8
AGATHA was a Sicilian virgin of noble extraction.
Quintianus, governor of Sicily, became deeply
enamored of her; but she rejected his advances.
As a result she was charged with being a Christian
and brought before his tribunal. To the question
concerning her origin she replied: "I am noble-born,
of a distinguished family, as all my relatives will
attest." When asked why she lived the servile life of
a Christian, she answered: "I am a handmaid of Christ,
and that is why I bear the outward appearance of a slave;
yet this is the highest nobility, to be a slave to Christ."
The governor threatened her with the most dreadful tortures
if she did not renounce Christ. Agatha countered: "If you
threaten me with wild beasts, know that at the Name of
Christ they grow tame; if you use fire, from heaven angels
will drop healing dew on me."
After being tortured, “Agatha went to prison radiant with
joy and with head held high as though invited to a festive
banquet. And she commended her agony to the Lord in prayer.”
The next day, as she again stood before the judge, she
declared: "If you do not cause my body to be torn to pieces
by the hangmen, my soul cannot enter the Lord’s paradise with
the martyrs". She was then stretched on the rack, burned with
red-hot irons, and despoiled of her breasts. During these
tortures she prayed: "For love of chastity I am made to hang
from a rack. Help me, O Lord my God, as they knife my breasts."
Agatha rebuked the governor for his barbarity: "Godless, cruel,
infamous tyrant, are you not ashamed to despoil a woman of that
by which your own mother nursed you?"
Returning to prison, she prayed: "You have seen, O Lord, my
struggle, how I fought in the place of combat; but because I would
not obey the commands of rulers, my breasts were lacerated." In
the night there appeared to her a venerable old man, the apostle Peter,
with healing remedies. Agatha, ever delicately modest, hesitated to
show him her wounds. "I am the apostle of Christ; distrust me not,
my daughter." To which she replied: "I have never used earthly
medicines on my body. I cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, who renews all
things by His word." She was miraculously healed by St. Peter: "Father
of my Lord Jesus Christ, I give you praise because by Your apostle You
have restored my breasts." Throughout the night a light illumined
the dungeon. When the guards fled in terror, her fellow prisoners urged
her to escape but she refused: "Having received help from the Lord, I
will persevere in confessing Him who healed me and comforted me."
Four days later she was again led before the judge. He, of course, was
amazed over her cure. Nevertheless, he insisted that she worship the gods;
which prompted another confession of faith in Christ. Then by order of the
governor, Agatha was rolled over pieces of sharp glass and burning coals.
At that moment the whole city was rocked by a violent earthquake. Two walls
collapsed, burying two of the governor’s friends in the debris. Fearing a
popular uprising, he ordered Agatha, half dead, to be returned to prison.
Here she offered her dying prayer: Blessed Agatha stood in the midst of
the prison and with outstretched arms prayed to the Lord: "O Lord Jesus Christ,
good Master, I give You thanks that You granted me victory over the executioners’
tortures. Grant now that I may happily dwell in Your never-ending glory."
Thereupon she died (in the year c. 251).
A year after her death the city of Catania was in great peril from an eruption
on Mount Etna. Pagans, too, were numbered among those who fled in terror to
the saint’s grave. Her veil was taken and held against the onrushing flames,
and suddenly the danger ceased. Her grave is venerated at Catania in Sicily.
Excerpt from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
"Jesus Christ, Lord of all things!
You see my heart, you know my
desires. Possess all that I am -
You alone. I am Your sheep; make
me worthy to overcome all evil."
"May my courage and my thought
be so firmly founded upon
the firm stone of Jesus Christ."
O God, who knew from one of the many marvels
of Your power, how to give strength to the
weaker sex to obtain the victory of martyrdom,
concede us the grace that we, celebrating
the victory of your saintly virgin and martyr
Agatha, walk towards You, through the imitation
of your examples. By Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen."
Prayer for Healing
Saint Agatha, you suffered
assault and indignity because
of your faith and relied solely
on Jesus Christ for your courage.
O Lord, through the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St.
Agatha, we ask you to heal all those
who are survivors of abuse and assault;
protect all who are in danger and welcome
them into Your loving embrace, through
Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who lives and
reigns in the Holy Ghost, Amen
Saint Agatha by Carlo Dolci; (b. 1616- d.1687)
Saint Peter Healing Saint Agatha
by Giovanni Lanfranco; 1614; Galleria Nazionale, Parma, Italy;
Saint Agatha by Bernardino Luini; 1510-1515; Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy
February 5 - Feast of Saint Agatha of Catania, Martyr - Victorious over all abuse with Jesus Christ
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The Apostolic Blessing by the Holy See in Rome is bestowed (October 28, 2013)
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