SAINTS

APRIL 20: ST. AGNES OF MONTEPULCIANO

(1268-1317)

St. Agnes of Montepulciano was born into a noble family in the village of Gracciano, Italy. Already at 4 years old, she began seeking solitude where she could pray privately for many hours to Jesus.

At age 9, she told her parents that she desired to enter the Dominican monastery at nearby Montepulciano. She prayed that her parents, who initially opposed her wishes, would change their opinions. In a short time, she entered the convent and began living under the rule of St. Augustine.

The sisters she lived with soon recognized that Agnes appeared more like an angelic spirit than a human being. She was known to live an austere life, sleeping on the ground with a stone for a pillow, and fasted on bread and water.

Agnes cheerfully performed the most menial tasks and never complained. She was known for her acts of charity. It was said that she could be observed absorbed in prayer while seemingly unaware that she was suspended nearly two feet above the ground; or violets, lilies or roses would be found growing up through the stones where St. Agnes had just prayed.

The town of Procena built a monastery for their daughters and invited some of the sisters of Montepulciano to come there with Agnes as their prioress. She was only 15 years old and feared for her humility should she accept the position. Pope Nicholas IV commanded her to accept the office, so she agreed to become the superior of the sisters there. It wasn’t long before several miracles were credited to Agnes’ intervention and people flocked to the place for her blessings.

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Agnes and told her that she would one day begin a large monastery based on faith in the Most High and undivided Trinity. She did in fact establish the convent under the Dominican rule, as she had been instructed by an angel, about the year 1300, as the citizens of Montepulciano had built a new convent there, hoping to lure Agnes back to them. She governed there until her death in 1317.

Agnes had several visions of the Holy Mother during her life. In one instance it was believed that Mary gave her a small cross to comfort and strengthen her. This little cross is still shown with great solemnity to pilgrims, especially during the month of May. Mary likewise blessed Agnes with a vision of Christ’s suffering, which lasted three days.

Shortly before her death, St. Agnes was sent to bathe in springs that were thought to have curative powers. The waters did nothing to help Agnes, though a new spring emerged close by which did indeed have curative power. It was given the name “the Water of St. Agnes.” While there, the saint prayed over a child who recently drowned, bringing the child back to life.

St. Agnes of Montepulciano then went back to the monastery, where she died on April 20, 1317, at the age of only 43. Her body was found to be incorrupt, and a mysterious, sweet smelling liquid was observed to stream from both her hands and feet. When St. Catherine of Siena went to pray before St. Agnes’ incorrupt body, the deceased saint lifted her foot for St. Catherine to kiss. She also revealed to St. Catherine that they would both enjoy the same amount of glory in heaven.

St. Agnes of Montepulciano was solemnly canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: St Agnes of Montepulciano. (n.d.). Roman Catholic Saints. Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/st-agnes-of-montepulciano.html