St Agnes, Virgin & Martyr (21st January)

Hebrews 9.2-3,11-14; Psalm 46; Mark 3.20-21

Agnes was beheaded in Rome around the year 305 during the persecution of Diocletian at the age of about 12 or 13, because she refused marriage, declaring that she could have no spouse except Christ. She was first exposed in a brothel but all but one of the Roman young men who saws her recognised her sanctity and left her untouched. The one who attempted to violate her was struck blind; Agnes then healed him by her prayer. She was buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome. She is the patron saint of girls.

Devotion to her began very early, and her name is included in the Roman Canon. Since her name means ‘lamb-like’ (we call Christ Jesus the Agnus Dei or ‘Lamb of God’ in the liturgy) she has long been depicted in art with a lamb. On her feast day in St Agnes’ Church in Rome, two lambs are blessed which will produce the wool from which archbishops’ pallia will be woven by the nuns of St Agnes’ convent. The pallium worn by an archbishop is a token of his jurisdiction in communion with the papacy.

Posted in Daily Reflection.