St. Agnes of Rome
III or IV Century
A popular saint about whom little is known, Agnes is said
to have been a beautiful, wealthy Roman maiden who had, in
childhood, dedicated herself to God. Some say that a rejected
suitor betrayed her to authorities; others say that she was
asked at 13 to sacrifice to the gods and marry, both of which
she refused. Legends tell of her being thrown into a brothel,
where her purity was miraculously preserved. Having escaped
that fate, she was martyred.
In the IV Century, Constantia, the daughter of Constantine,
built a basilica on the site of her tomb. St. Ambrose wrote
about Agnes in De virginitate, and Damasus I wrote an epitaph
for her. Prudentius composed a hymn in her honor.
Her emblem in art is the lamb because of the similarity between
her name and the Latin word for lamb, agnus.
Karen Rae Keck
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