One of the most popular saints in the Catholic tradition, Agnes is the patron saint of virgins and engaged couples. According to early Christian writings, she was a beautiful young Roman girl who lived in the A . D . 300S and died a virgin martyr at age 13.
Stories say that a pagan Roman fell in love with Agnes and wanted to marry her, but she refused, telling him that she could love only Jesus Christ. At the time, Christians were being persecuted in Rome. Agnes's angry suitor reported her religious beliefs, and she was sent to a house of prostitution as punishment.
Agnes was stripped of her clothes, but God caused her hair to grow long to cover her naked body. He also sent angels to protect her against all who tried to touch her. The one man who dared to do so was killed by an angel. In another version of the story, the man was struck blind, but Agnes healed him.
patron special guardian, protector, or supporter
martyr person who suffers or is put to death for a belief
pagan term used by early Christians to describe non-Christians and non-Christian beliefs
Agnes was killed later during a period of harsh persecution. She is often depicted in works of art with a lamb, because her name resembles agnus, the Latin word for lamb. Each year on January 21, her feast day, two white lambs are blessed in the Church of Santa Agnese in Rome. Wool from these lambs is woven into a garment called a pallium, worn by archbishops of the church.