January 2015 - Holy Martyr Agnes

In time she was arrested and brought before the City Prefect. When she refused to deny Christ, the Prefect had her handed over to be tortured; but everyone who attempted to harm her was mysteriously prevented, and one especially vicious and lewd attacker was miraculously struck dead. In front of the Prefect's soldiers, Agnes prayed to God and the dead man was restored to life. Many pagan spectators, and the Prefect himself, cried "Great is the power of the Christians!" But others claimed that Agnes had performed this wonder by sorcery and should be killed.

The Prefect ordered that she be burned to death. She gave up her life serenely and with prayers on her lips. A few days after Agnes's death, her sister, Emerentiana, was found praying by her tomb and was stoned to death for reprimanding the pagans who killed her sister and for refusing to leave the place.  Emerentiana was also later canonized.  Local Christians gathered Agnes’ relics and placed them in a tomb where a magnificent church was later built. Saint Agnes' holy relics remain a source of healing to this day.

The daughter of Emperor Constantine I, Saint Constance, was said to have been cured of Leprosy after praying at Agnes' tomb.  Sts. Emerentiana and Constance appear in the scenes from the miracles of St. Agnes on the 14th-century Royal Gold Cup held in the British Museum. An early account of Agnes' life and death, stressing her young age, steadfastness of faith and virginity is given by Saint Ambrose of Milan.

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