Imagine a woman refusing the proposal of the holy Roman emperor to become rather a bride of God. This is the story of today’s saint.
Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia. She was betrothed very young to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later. She received proposals of marriage to King Henry VII of Germany and King Henry III of England. She also received a proposal from Frederick II, the holy Roman emperor. Preferring to follow a religious life, she appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help. The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.
During her life of service, Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague. In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery. St. Clare sent five sisters from San Damiano in Assisi to join them and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation and her duties as abbess.
Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification. Papal pressure forced her to accept her election as abbess; nevertheless, the title she preferred was “senior sister.” Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. The sisters found her kind but strict regarding the observance of poverty; she declined her royal brother’s offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.
Devotion to Agnes arose soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989. Her liturgical feast is celebrated on March 6.
Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: St. Agnes of Bohemia | Franciscan Media. (n.d.). Franciscan Media. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2021, from https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-agnes-of-bohemia