Saint of the Day – 16 November – Saint Agnes of Assisi OSC (1197-1253)

Saint of the Day – 16 November – Saint Agnes of Assisi OSC (1197-1253) Virgin, Nun,Abbess, younger sister of Clare of Assisi and one of the first Abbesses of the Order of Poor Ladies (now the Poor Clares). Born Caterina Offreducia in 1197 at Assisi, Italy and died on 16 November 1253 at the Monastery of San Damiano of natural causes. Patronage – the Poor Clares, siblings, children of Mary, engaged couples, chastity.

Agnes was the younger daughter of Count Favorino Scifi. Her saintly mother, Blessed Hortulana, belonged to the noble family of the Fiumi and her cousin, Rufino, was one of the celebrated “Three Companions” of St Francis.

Agnes’s childhood was passed between her father’s Palace in the City and his Castle of Sasso Rosso on Mount Subasio.

On 18 March, 1212, her eldest sister Clare, moved by the preaching and example of St Francis, had left her father’s home to follow the way of life taught by the Saint. Sixteen days later, Agnes repaired to the Monastery of St Angelo in Panso, where the Benedictine Nuns had afforded Clare temporary shelter and resolved to share her sister’s life of poverty and penance. Agnes was just Fifteen years of age.

At this ocurrence, the fury of Count Favorino knew no bounds. He sent his brother Monaldo, with several relatives and some armed followers, to St Angelo’s Monastery, to force Agnes, if persuasion failed, to return home. The conflict which followed is related in detail in the “Chronicles of the Twent Four Generals.” Monaldo, (Agnes’ uncle) beside himself with rage, drew his sword to strike the young girl but his arm dropped, withered and useless, by his side; others dragged Agnes out of the Monastery by the hair, striking her and even kicking her repeatedly. Presently St.Clare came to the rescue and suddenly, Agnes’s body became so heavy that the soldiers having tried in vain to carry her off, dropped her, half dead, in a field near the Monastery.

Overcome by a spiritual power against which physical force availed not, Agnes’s relatives were obliged to withdraw and to allow her to remain with St Clare.

St Francis, who was overjoyed at Agnes’s heroic resistance to the entreaties and threats of her pursuers, presently cut off her hair and gave her the habit of Poverty. Soon after, he established the two sisters at St Damiano’s, in a small rude dwelling adjoining the humble Sanctuary, which he had helped to rebuild with his own hands. There several other noble ladies of Assisi joined Clare and Agnes, and thus began the Order of the Poor Ladies of St Damian’s, or Poor Clares, as these Franciscan nuns afterwards came to be called.

From the outset of her religious life, Agnes was distinguished by such an eminent degree of virtue, that her companions declared that she seemed to have discovered a new road to perfection, known only to herself.

As Abbess, she ruled with loving kindness and knew how to make the practice of virtue bright and attractive to her subjects. In 1219, Agnes, despite her youth, was chosen by St Francis to found and govern a community of the Poor Ladies at Monticelli, near Florence, which in course of time, became almost as famous as St Damiano’s. A letter written by St Agnes to St Clare, after this separation, is still extant, touchingly beautiful in its simplicity and affection. Nothing perhaps in Agnes’s character, is more striking and attractive, than her loving fidelity to Clare’s ideals and her undying loyalty in upholding the latter, in her lifelong and arduous struggle for Seraphic Poverty.

Full of zeal for the spread of the Order, Agnes established, from Monticelli, several Monasteries of the Poor Ladies in the north of Italy, including those of Mantua, Venice and Padua, all of which observed the same fidelity to the teaching of St Francis and St Clare.

In 1253 Agnes was summoned to St Damiano’s during the last illness of her beloved sister and assisted at the latter’s triumphant death and funeral.

On 16 November of the same year,she followed St Clare to her eternal reward. Her mother Hortulana and her younger sister Beatrice, both of whom had followed Clare and Agnes into the Order, had already passed away.

The precious remains of St Agnes repose near the body of her mother and sisters, in the Church of St Clare at Assisi. God, Who had favoured Agnes with many heavenly manifestations during life, glorified her Tomb after death, by numerous miracles. In 1753 Pope Benedict XIV recognised her holiness and recognised her cultus by and permitted the Order of St Francis to celebrate her Feast. It is kept on 16 November, as a double of the second class.


Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn / Our Lady of Ostra, Brama, Vilnius, Lithuania (1363) and Memorials of the Saints – 16 November

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn / Our Lady of Ostra, Brama, Vilnius, Lithuania (1363) – 16 November:

This Marian Title is the prominent Catholic painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated by the faithful in the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania. The painting was historically displayed above the Vilnius City Gate; city gates of the time often contained religious artefacts intended to ward off attacks and bless passing travellers.
The painting is in the Northern Renaissance style and was completed most likely around 1630. The Virgin Mary is depicted without the infant Jesus. The artwork soon became known as miraculous and inspired a following. A dedicated Chapel was built in 1671 by the Discalced Carmelites. At the same time, the painting was covered in expensive and elaborate silver and gold clothes leaving only the face and hands visible.

In 1702, when Vilnius was captured by the Swedish army during the Great Northern War, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn came to her people’s rescue. At dawn, the heavy iron of the Gate collapsed, crushing and killing four Swedish soldiers. After this, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army successfully counter-attacked near the gate.
In the following centuries, the cult grew and Our Lady became an important part of religious life in Vilnius. This inspired many copies in Lithuania, Poland and diaspora communities worldwide. On 5 July 1927, the image was canonically crowned as Mother of Mercy. It is a major site of pilgrimage in Vilnius and attracts many visitors, especially from Poland.

Patronage of Our Lady: Feast permitted by a 1679 Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites for all Provinces of Spain, in memory of the victories obtained there over infidels.
Pope Benedict XIII granted it to the Papal States and it may now be celebrated with due permission by Churches throughout the world.

St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) (Virgin, Benedictine Religious, Mystic, Theologian, Writer. Optional Memorial)
About St Gertrude:

St Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093) Queen Consort of Scotland Saint Margaret’s name signifies “pearl” “a fitting name,” says Bishop Turgot, her Confessor and her first Biographer, “for one such as she.” Her soul was like a precious pearl. (Optional Memorial)
About St Margaret:

St Afan of Wales
St Africus of Comminges
St Agnes of Assisi OSC (1197-1253) Virgin, Nun, Prioress

St Agostino of Capua
St Alfric of Canterbury
St Anianus of Asti
St Céronne

St Edmund Rich of Abingdon (1175-1240) Archbishop of Canterbury, Confessor, Apostle of Prayer and Charity, Mystic, Doctor of Theology, eloquent Preacher, Ascetic, highly regarded Professor lecturer, Reformer, Writer, peacemaker, social activist and negotiator.

Bl Edward Osbaldeston
St Elpidius the Martyr
St Eucherius of Lyon
St Eustochius the Martyr
St Felicita of Capua
St Fidentius of Padua
St Gobrain of Vannes
St Ludre
St Marcellus the Martyr
St Othmar of Saint Gal
Bl Simeon of Cava

Martyrs of Africa – (11 saints)

Martyrs of Almeria – (9 saints): Soon after the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Communist-oriented Popular Front had all clergy and religious arrested and abused as they considered staunch Christians to be enemies of the revolution. Many of these prisoners were executed for having promoted the faith and this memorial remembers several of them killed in the province of Almeria.
• Adrián Saiz y Saiz
• Bienvenido Villalón Acebrón
• Bonifacio Rodríguez González
• Diego Ventaja Milán
• Eusebio Alonso Uyarra
• Isidoro Primo Rodríguez
• Justo Zariquiegui Mendoza
• Manuel Medina Olmos
• Marciano Herrero Martínez