Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fruit of friendship...

The martyrdoms of the saints have taught us and do teach us 
how to conquer the world,
with all of its fallacies, fervors, and fears." - St Augustine

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"In martyrdom, Agnes also seals the other crucial element of her life, virginity for Christ and for the Church. The total gift of martyrdom is prepared, in fact, by the conscious, free and mature choice of virginity, a witness to the will to belong totally to Christ. If martyrdom is a final heroic act, virginity is the result of a long friendship with Jesus that has matured in the constant hearing of His Word, in the dialogue of prayer, in the Eucharistic encounter."

Pope Benedict XVI
Address at the Almo Collegio Capranica, Roma,
for the Feast of St. Agnes ~ Jan 20, 2012

St Agnes
Rome ~ 291-304 AD 
Virgin, Martyr
Patron: young girls, chastity, engaged couples
FEAST DAY - January 21

Whenever a man wished to marry Agnes,
she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse."

"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married woman with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes (Greek: pure) not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be."St. Augustine

A Roman maid of tender years … St Agnes died for Christ … Steadfast in faith, and ever chaste … She could not be enticed … Although the pagans tortured her … Their efforts were in vain … As piously and patiently … She gloried in her pain … Not even all their insults and … Humiliating acts … Could cause her vigil of the soul … To lessen or relax … When she was only thirteen years … She died beneath the sword … True to her vow to be a spouse … And virgin of our Lord … And now her soul is honored as … The little lamb of Christ … This Roman maid who kept the faith … And nobly sacrificed. Excerpt from: Poem Portraits of the Saints, James Metcalfe (pg 28)

The lamb, as a symbol of purity, is one of the symbols of St. Agnes. In Rome on this day, the Holy Father will bless two crowned lambs, brought to the Church of St. Agnes in two baskets, decorated in red (martyrdom) and white (purity), by Trappists of the Tre Fontane Monastery. The lambs are blessed and then taken to the Convent of St. Cecilia, where the Sisters care for them and use their wool to weave the palliums worn by the Pope and his Archbishops. The palliums are conferred on new archbishops -- those appointed as archbishops during the preceding year -- on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul on 29 June. Because of St. Agnes's association with lambs, a lamb-shaped cake would be nice today. Think of using coconut for the wool...

St. Agnes, like St. Valentine, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Anthony of Padua, is invoked by single women in search of a husband -- and today is a good day to pray such a prayer.  In fact, Medieval folklore says that on St. Agnes Eve, girls are often granted visions of their future husbands. Scottish girls would meet in a crop field at midnight, throw grain onto the soil, and pray:

Agnes sweet and Agnes fair, 
Hither, hither, now repair;
Bonny Agnes, let me see, 

The lad who is to marry me.


St Agnes, pray for us!

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