The ground is covered with snow, pure and white it glistens and gleams in the sun. So let’s have a story about a pure young saint, Agnes of Rome. Her name means pure in Greek and Lamb in Latin and truly that is what she is, a pure little lamb who followed the Lamb of God, Jesus, to His throne. Agnes of Rome, whose Feast day is the 21st January, she is our Saint of the month.
Agnes was born to noble parents who were very rich and very important, so important were they, that they got other people to clean their house, cook their food, do the garden and even look after their children.
So when Agnes was born an old woman called Rosa, looked after her and she hardly ever saw her parents. Rosa was kind and good and loved little Agnes very much. She told Agnes wonderful bed time stories about a great king named Jesus, who was truly God and truly man.
Rosa told Agnes how Jesus was born very poor in an animal’s manger and went to the cross like a meek lamb, giving His life that we all might live. Rosa told Agnes all about Jesus and how much He loved her and Agnes grew to love Jesus very, very much. Agnes’ Parents did not know about this, they worshipped thousands of different wooden gods and idols that stood lifeless on wooden pillars and did nothing at all. Agnes saw these gods and knew how silly it would be to believe in them, she knew her God, Jesus, lived and so she gave her heart completely to Him.
Agnes became a very beautiful girl and God’s goodness shone from her, making her glow with beauty. Many young men fell in love with her and wished to take her hand in marriage but Agnes was not interested. One day Agnes came home to find that her dad had brought a young man home to visit.
The young man came piled high with fancy clothes, crowns, jewels, necklaces, rings and laid them all at Agnes’ feet. “All this and more is yours, only say you will be my wife” the young man said. “I will not” Agnes replied “for I am already betrothed to one who is much more powerful and noble than you.” Her father looked at her strangely “who is this man you speak of” he asked “for I do not know him.” “He is a prince”, Agnes answered. “whose bride keeps, as a most glorious crown her spotless virginity. To Him I have vowed myself.” “A prince?” scoffed the young man “I do not know him, who is he?
“He is the one” replied Agnes “who the sun and moon admire.” when she had finished proclaiming the glories of her prince Agnes left them dumbfounded and went to find Rosa. The young man went away very angry ‘who can it be that she is in love with’ he thought to himself.
Then one day he saw Agnes walking down the road with Rosa. She was glowing with happiness, he had to know where she was going, she shone as one who is off to see the one they love.
Secretly following them up the road he saw them go into a little poor house. He followed them in and there he saw to his utter surprise Rosa and Agnes surrounded by a whole crowd of poor people kneeling down before a little wooden desk. There was a man standing behind the desk with his hands extended, in them he had a little white piece of bread. ‘Heathen’ the young man thought ‘blasphemers.’ ‘Agnes must be a Christian, oh the gods be praised, I’ve got her now.’ He ran quickly from the poor little house and went straight home to tell his father, who was head perfect of the city of Rome. His father was mad. “Oh surely she will marry you now, now that we know her terrible secret, she will surely marry you to save her life.”
The young man was so happy, he went to tell Agnes’ dad. “What? A Christian, my daughter, how could she?” Her father has shocked and just then Agnes came into the room “Agnes are you really a Christian?” her father asked her. Agnes was stunned ‘how do they know?’ She thought, but unfailingly she answered “Yes, Yes I am.” The young man smiled and said “marry me now and I will not tell anyone.” Agnes smiled too now and replied “I will not, my answer is still the same”. Then the young man became red with anger “well if you will not then I am forced to arrest you for being a Christian” and taking hold of her arm he pulled her away from her home and led her to the courts where his father sat in judgement.
“What is this I have heard?” the young man’s father asked “accused of being a Christian, a dreadful thing, and at such a young age.
Here is what I will do, because of your youth I will not sentence you to death, just go and pay homage to the goddess Vesta and you will be spared.” “I will not” was Agnes’ answer once again “I will worship no one but Jesus, My Lord and Saviour, it is to Him I am vowed.” The prefect frowned “look, I understand you wish to remain a virgin, so go and become a virgin of the goddess Vesta, not this Jesus you speak of.” Agnes spoke up bravely “I am vowed to Jesus and to Him I will remain true.”
The prefect now became very angry and wishing to embarrass Agnes he pulled at her clothing so that she would become naked in front of everyone.
But at the moment Jesus miraculously made her hair grow so long that her hair covered her whole body and she was not shamed. The prefect had Agnes jailed in a room where people could go and look at her and embarrass her. Now, who should be the first to enter the room but the perfect’s son. He went in with evil intentions in his heart. Jesus saw this and caused one of His many angels to stand at the door and protect Agnes.
The moment the young man entered the room the angel struck him down dead.
The people grew impatient waiting for the young man to return, “What could be taking him so long?” they said to one another. Then his father, the Prefect went in and found his son dead at the door. “What have you done to him?” he cried out to Agnes “you are surely a witch, bring him back to life.” Agnes calmly answered him “it was God’s mighty angel who struck him down because he had evil in his heart, but, if you leave me, I will pray for his life.” The father left the room and Agnes prayed for the young man and instantly the young man returned to life. He got up and ran from the room crying “there is only one God, Jesus”
The people were amazed “she has bewitched him” they said. By now though the fathers heart had softened and wishing to spare Agnes’ life he did not shout with the crowd for her death.
The crowd became louder and louder, shouting for Agnes to be killed. The prefect gave in and said to a solider “do what you want” and he and his son left the place full of sorrow for what they had done.
The people tried to set Agnes alight but the flames did not touch her. Agnes prayed “I bless you Jesus that you have saved me, but I cannot wait to be with you.” At the sight of the miracle of her not burning the crowds shouted “witch, witch” and someone ran and took a sword and thus Agnes died. But all was not lost, Rosa came at night and secretly took and buried Agnes’ body. As she left to go home she saw Agnes standing with a bright shining Lamb. Agnes called out to Rosa “I am now with Jesus, the Lamb of God, He is my Lamb and I am His, I will see you in Heaven.” Rosa saw Agnes lifted up into heaven with the Lamb, and she is now praying for all the little lambs of God.
Are you a little lamb of God? Ask St Agnes to help you give all your love to Jesus the Lamb of God.