St. Agnes was martyred on 21st January c305 AD in the Piazza Navarone in Rome, at the age of twelve or thirteen. The son of the Governor of Rome proposed marriage, but Agnes preferred virginity.
Her refusal to accept his hand, sent the Governor into a rage, and he threatened to expose Agnes’s parents as Christians, and so face certain death. He tried to persuade Agnes to change her mind by making her walk naked through the city, but her hair miraculously grew to cover her body and save her nakedness. This could not change her mind, so Agnes was burned at the stake, but the flames refused to touch her. She was sent to the lions, who made no attack on her. The son of the Governor goaded the lions who then attacked and killed him. The Father, distraught at his son’s death, pleaded with Agnes to pray for him, and at her intercession he was restored to health. Undeterred, the Governor had Agnes beheaded. Her body was buried in the Catacombs outside the city.
Because of the resemblance of her name, Agnes to agnus (Latin for lamb) she is often represented in Art carrying a lamb. An interesting custom is observed on her feast day. Two lambs are brought from the Trappist Abbey of Three Fountains in Rome to the Pope to be blessed. On Holy Thursday they are shorn, and from the wool the pallium is woven by the Benedictine nuns at St. Cecelia's in Trastevere. This is the thin stole the Holy Father gives to a newly consecrated archbishop as a sign of his jurisdiction and his union with the Head of the Church.
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