Saint of the Day – 18 August – St Agapitus the Martyr (c 259- c 274) Roman Youth aged 15 Born in c 259 in Palestrina, Italy and died in c 274 by being thrown to wild animals in the arena. When the animals would not touch him, he was beheaded at Palestrina, Italy. Patronages – against colics, Palestrina, Italy. Also known as –
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Palestina, the birthday of the holy Martyr Agapitus. Although only fifteen years of age, as he was fervent in the love of Christ, he was arrested by order of te Emperor Aurelian and scourged for a long time. Afterwards, under the Prefect Antiochus, he endured more severed torments and, being delivered to the lions by the Emperor’s order without receiving any injury, he was finally struck with the sword and thus, merited his crown.”
Agapitus, was a member of the noble Anicia family of Palestrina, He was condemned to death under the Prefect Antiochus and the Emperor Aurelian, for being a Christian.
Agapitus was but 15 years old, when he was apprehended by the tyrant Aurelian, on account of being a Christian. As he unflinchingly proclaimed his belief in Christ, he was whipped with scourges and then cast into a dungeon, without any food, that he might thus be forced to forsake Christianity.
When Antiochus, the Prefect, found him, at the end of five days, more determined than before, he ordered a live coal to be put upon his head. The brave youth stood immovably under this torture and praising God, said: “A head, which would wear an eternal crown in Heaven, must not hesitate to wear suffering and pain upon earth. Wounds and burns make my head the more worthy to be crowned with eternal glory.”
Antiochus, greatly provoked, ordered them to whip the holy youth till his body became one great wound, after which, they hung him by the feet over a fire, hoping to suffocate him. But they failed for, after a long silence, he addressed the Prefect saying: “Behold, Antiochus, the people will say that all thy ingenuity, all thy wit, ends in smoke.”
Enraged at this remark, the tyrant had him again cruelly whipped and ordered boiling water to be poured into the open wounds. After this, they knocked all his teeth out and broke his jaws with blows.
But God punished the tyrant for his cruelty; He caused him to fall from his seat and break his neck. Aurelian, hearing of this, ordered the Martyr to be thrown to the wild beasts but, as they refused to touch him, he was finally beheaded. Thus ended the glorious Martyrdom of the holy youth, Agapitus, in around 274.
Agapitus is mentioned in the ancient Martyrologies, including the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of St Jerome, Around the 5th Century, Pope Felix III built a Basilica in his honour on the supposed site of his Martyrdom. His relics were kept in the Basilica and a cemetery grew around it. At some uncertain date, his relics were translated to the present Cathedral of Palestrina, dedicated to him.
Agapitus is honoured in the Tridentine Calendar by a commemoration added to the Mass and canonical hours in the liturgy of the day within the Octave of the Assumption.