Once among the most highly regarded of virgin martyrs, Agatha
is said in legends to have been born into a noble family
in Palermo or Catania. A consul named Quintian fell in
love with her and was unable to dissuade her from her
faith. He took her to a house of prostitution, where
she preserved her virginity. She was then subjected to
interogation and torture. Her breasts were cut off,
and St. Peter is said to have appeared to her and
healed her. She died later as a result of the various
tortures. She is reported to have prevented an eruption
of Mt. Etna shortly after her death.
Her name is included in the martyrologies of Carthage and
of Jerome, and she is mentioned in the Carmina of Venantius
Fortunatus. The Latin version of her life dates from the
V Century. Her relics were translated c. 1126 from Constantinople
to Catania, perhaps the place of her death.
Karen Rae Keck
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