St Agnes is among the seven women listed, together with the Blessed Virgin, embedded in the Roman Catholic Cannon of the earliest saints and martyrs.

She was only 12 years old when she was led to the altar of Minerva in Rome and commanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. The story goes that she raised her hands to Christ, her spouse, and made the sign of the cross. She was bound hand and foot, but the shackles slipped from her young hands.

She was subjected to torture, but resigned herself to her torment. When the judge saw that pain had no effect on her, he inflicted an insult worse than death: her clothes were stripped off, and she had to stand in the street before a pagan crowd; yet she remained resolute. She said, “Christ will guard His own.” While the crowd turned away their eyes from the spouse of Christ, as she stood exposed to view in the street, there was one young man who dared to gaze at the innocent child with immodest eyes. A flash of light struck him blind, and his companions bore him away half dead with pain and terror.

Agnes’ fidelity to Christ was further tested by flattery and offers of marriage. But she answered, “Christ is my spouse: He chose me first, and His I will be.”

Finally, a sentence of death was passed. For a moment she stood erect in prayer, and then bowed her neck to the sword. At one stroke her head was severed from her body, and it is said that the angels bore her pure soul to Paradise.

Today, Agnes is recognized as the patroness of betrothed couples, chastity, children of Mary, Colegio Capranica of Rome, crops, gardeners, girl guides, girls, rape victims, virgins, the diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, and the city of Fresno.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Thua, L. (2018, Jan. 16). St. Agnes of Rome Biography Feast Day – Jan. 21 – Saint of the Day. Catholic Daily Readings.