JANUARY 21. AGNES OF ROME, WHOSE long hair shielded her purity
Patron saint of betrothed couples, chastity, Children of Mary, crops, gardeners, girls, rape victims, and virgins
Lived 291 to 304
Agnes, whose name means "chaste" or "pure" in Greek and "lamb" in Latin, was a beautiful and wealthy young girl with many high ranking suitors. Several of these young men offered to marry her, "whether from lust or pity is unknown." She turned all the suitors away and declared she could have no spouse but Jesus.
HOW AGNES REBUFFED HER VILE SUITORS
The following quotes are attributed to baby Agnes:
"Away from me, food of death, for I have already found another lover!"
"Honey and milk I have received from His mouth, and His blood has reddened my cheeks."
"I am already the spouse of a Lover more noble and powerful than you. He is a Prince, a Prince whose bride keeps, as the most glorious of crowns, a spotless virginity."
"I love Christ, into whose chamber I shall enter, whose mother is a virgin, whose Father knows not woman, whose music and melody are sweet to my ears. When I love Him, I remain chaste; when I touch Him, I remain pure; when I possess Him, I remain a virgin."
HAIR AND OTHER HOLY SHIELDS
By one account, Agnes was condemned to death by beheading. Upon seeing her executioner hesitate, Agnes encouraged him. "Strike without fear, for the bride does her Spouse an injury if she makes him wait."
A TRAIN OF VIRGINS & A PAIR OF LAMBS
Eight days after her death, Agnes appeared to her parents with a train of virgins (chugga-chugga-choo-choo!) and a lamb at her side.
On Agnes' feast day, two lambs from a Trappist monastery are adorned with crowns and red and white ribbons and blessed at the church by the pope. Raised by Benedictine nuns, their wool is shorn on Holy Thursday and made in to palliums (a sort of holy scarf that high priests wear).
SAINT AGNES' EVE
Single women in search of a husband may invoke Agnes. Medieval folklore says on Saint Agnes Eve, girls are granted visions of their future husbands.
Here are some rituals that the single ladies have tried:
The rituals vary from place to place, but included among them are walking backwards to bed while not looking behind you; pulling out a row of pins, saying a Pater for each one; eating a yolkless boiled egg with salt filling the cavity where the yolk had been, thereby prompting the future husband to bring the girl water in a dream; making a special cake called a "dumb cake," walking backward with it to bed, and eating it; and sprinkling sprigs of thyme and rosemary with holy water, placing them on each side of the bed, and invoking St. Agnes.