History of Saint Agnes

A fourth century Christian virgin and martyr, Saint Agnes was only 12 or 13 years old when she was executed. Various accounts claim that she was beheaded, burned to death or strangled. 

According to a sixth century legend, Agnes was a beautiful Roman girl. After rejecting many suitors, she was denounced as a Christian and sent to a house of prostitution as her punishment. 

When a young man ventured to touch her, he lost his sight, but then regained it in answer to her prayers. Shortly thereafter she was executed and buried on the Via Nomentana in a catacomb eventually named for her. 

A church was built over her tomb about 350. In art she is often portrayed with a lamb, a symbol of innocence. On January 21, her traditional feast day, two lambs are blessed at her church in Rome. Their wool is then woven into palliums (bands of white wool), which the pope confers on archbishops as a token of their jurisdiction. 

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