Agatha was born in Sicily, although the date her of birth is unknown. However, there are records of her veneration that go back as far as the sixth century. Apparently, Agatha was a member of a wealthy and noble family, and she decided at an early age to dedicate her life to God. Because of her deep love and devotion, she also consecrated her virginity to the Lord, deciding to remain unmarried and chaste for life.
Agatha lived during a time of great persecution of Christians. Unfortunately, she caught the attention of a man by the name of Quintan, who was a pagan. When advances by Quintan were thwarted by Agatha, he was so enraged that he sent her to a house of prostitution. When this failed to change her mind, it is said that he went about torturing her by racking, mutilating and rolling her over hot coals. When Quintan denied her any medical assistance, God is said to have sent her a vision of St. Peter to console her. She then offered up her soul to God and died.
Saint Agatha is often depicted in art as holding a pair of pincers or holding her severed breasts on a platter. Later, some mistakenly thought these were loaves of bread, which led to the practice of blessing bread on her feast day. Saint Agatha is the patron saint of nurses.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
She wore the glow of a pure conscience and the crimson of the Lamb’s blood for her cosmetics…. Her robe is the mark of her faithful witness to Christ.
—From a homily of St. Methodius on St. Agatha
To what extent is my conscience pure? To what extent do I gratefully bear the blood of the Lamb in and through my struggles and trials? Would someone regard me as a faithful witness to Christ? Why or why not?
Dear Father, what a brave and wonderful martyr Saint Agatha was! It is easy to say we would give our lives for You, but no one actually desires such suffering. But just as our Lord Jesus suffered for us, we, like Saint Agatha, offer our suffering to You, confident that You will send us consolation as You did for Agatha. Amen.