Memorial of St. Agatha, virgin and martyr
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Agatha, virgin and martyr.
It is impossible to write a historically reliable account of St. Agatha's life. The "Acts" of her martyrdom are legendary, dating from the sixth century.
According to these sources, Agatha was a Sicilian virgin of noble extraction. Quintianus, governor of Sicily, became deeply enamored of her; but she rejected his advances. As a result, she was charged with being a Christian and brought before his tribunal. To the question concerning her origin, she replied: "I am noble-born, of a distinguished family, as all my relatives will attest." When asked why she lived the servile life of a Christian, she answered: "I am a handmaid of Christ, and that is why I bear the outward appearance of a slave; yet this is the highest nobility, to be a slave to Christ." The governor threatened her with the most dreadful tortures if she did not renounce Christ. Agatha countered: "If you threaten me with wild beasts, know that at the Name of Christ they grow tame; if you use fire, from heaven angels will drop healing dew on me."
It was in prison where she offered her dying prayer: "Blessed Agatha stood in the midst of the prison and with outstretched arms prayed to the Lord: O Lord Jesus Christ, good Master, I give You thanks that You granted me victory over the executioners' tortures. Grant now that I may happily dwell in Your never-ending glory." Thereupon she died.
A year after her death the city of Catania was in great peril from an eruption on Mount Etna. Pagans, too, were numbered among those who fled in terror to the saint's grave. Her veil was taken and held against the onrushing flames, and suddenly the danger ceased. Her grave is venerated at Catania in Sicily.
May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity.