Wednesday, February 5, 2014

St Agatha

Giovanni Lanfranco - St Peter healing St Agatha
St. Agatha was born in Catania, Sicily, and died there a martyr in approximately 251 AD. In the legend of her life, we are told that she belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested. He expected her to give in when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God.
Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind. He brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered. Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel - a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured by cutting off her breasts. He refused her any medical care but God gave her all the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter.
Saint Agatha is often depicted in paintings carrying her excised breasts on a platter. The shape of her amputated breasts, especially as depicted in artistic renderings, gave rise to her attribution as the patron saint of bell-founders and of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients.
Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino and Segovia in Spain. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, fire and earthquakes. The following painting is a modern impression of St Agatha, in relation to her role as patron of breast cancer patients.

O St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom. Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity. O St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment