St. Agnes, whose feast day we celebrate today, lived in the third and fourth centuries. At a young age, she chose Christ as her Spouse. There were many suitors who would have had her hand, but she refused all of them, answering them that she already had a Spouse, one no mortal eyes could see. This was a dangerous thing to say, for it immediately told the suitors she was a Christian, and so they decided to punish her for not accepting them. Before the governor, they accused Agnes of faith in Christ, which she was bribed, and threatened with many tortures to renounce, but she remained unmovable. Unable to convince her with pain, she was sent to a place where it was hoped they could cause her holy chastity to be destroyed. God protected her, however, and she still remained faithful to her Divine Spouse. At last, on this day in the year 304, when Agnes was only 12 or 13, she was beheaded, her soul flying to meet the One in Whom she had placed all her love.
In the Scripture readings for today’s Mass, the Church honors Agnes for her faith and love for God with these words from the book of Wisdom: “I will give glory to Thee, O Lord…for Thou hast been my helper and protector to me, and hast preserved my body from destruction…My soul shall praise the Lord even unto death: because Thou O Lord our God, deliverest them that wait for Thee.” In the Tract we read, “Come thou, spouse of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord prepared for thee from everlasting: for whose love thou didst shed thy blood.” In the Gospel, Agnes is compared to the five wise virgins in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, because she was ready when her bridegroom called her, her lamp burning with love for her Heavenly Spouse.
God, help us to be like Agnes, who maintained her purity no matter what, and despite many distractions from the world, remained faithful to You and Your Holy Church. St. Agnes, pray for us!
So that the Catholic reader may not be confused, the Saint’s feasts are taken from the traditional calendar, so if you follow the new calendar, this feast may not line up with the feast you may be celebrating today.