Thought for the Day – 21 January – The Memorial of St Agnes (c 291- c 304) Virgin and Martyr
One of the most beloved of female saints, Saint Agnes is renowned for her virginity and for keeping her faith under torture. A girl of only 12 or 13 at the time of her death, Saint Agnes is one of eight female saints commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass (the First Eucharistic Prayer).
As Pope John Paul II said to the young people, they should not wait until they are older to become saints. For the World Youth Day, the Holy Father proposed nine “patron saints” — nine Saints and Blesseds who died at a very young age, like St Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, who died at the age of 24. One of these nine patrons is St Agnes, who died around 304 at the age of around 13. She declared that she would never accept any spouse except Jesus Christ.
“I do not think that the world has radically changed since the time that Agnes lived her short life in the world, some nineteen centuries ago. It is always the same strong and greedy world that we know today. The same world with three heads, which the martyrs of the first three centuries of Christianity had to face, still hinders the road to Heaven in our twentieth century: pride, impurity and the thirst for power stand armed against the Kingdom of Christ,
“Times are bad.” We, Catholics, are living in a time of paganism. Our governments and society are about as pagan as the governments and society in the times of paganism in Rome. Many do not adore the true God anymore; they rather adore at the altars of Venus, or of Moloch, or of some other false deity of the human passions, just like the Romans did.” (Bishop William Adrian of Nashville 1970)
St Agnes’ life, heroism and death inspire us to be pure also. Her name means pure in Greek and lamb in Latin. She is a symbol that holiness does not depend on length of years, experience, or human effort. It is a gift God offers to all.
St Agnes pray for us!