This Girl, Agatha…
Agatha of Sicily, who became Saint Agatha, is one of the most highly revered virgin martyrs of the Catholic Church. It is believed that she was born around 231 in either Catania or Palermo, Sicily to a rich and noble family.
From her very early years, the obviously beautiful Agatha dedicated her life to God. She became a consecrated virgin, a state in life where young women choose to remain celibate and give themselves wholly to Jesus and the Church in a life of prayer and service. Although that did not stop men from desiring her and making unwanted advances towards her.
However, amongst the men who desired Agatha, was Quintianus, he was of a high diplomatic ranking, and thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and force her to marry. His persistent proposals were consistently declined by beautiful Agatha, so Quintianus, knowing she was a Christian during the persecution of Decius, had her arrested and brought before the judge. He was the Judge.
He did all this, because he expected her to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death. But she simply restated her belief in God.
To force her to change her mind, Quintianus had her imprisoned — in a brothel. Agatha never lost her confidence in God, even though she suffered a month of assaults and efforts to get her to abandon her vow to God and go against her virtue. Quintianus heard of her calm strength and ordered that she be brought before him once again.
Enraged, Quintianus sent her off to prison instead of back to the brothel — a move intended to make her even more afraid, but it was probably a great relief to her.
Agatha continued to proclaim Jesus as her Savior, her Lord, her Life and Hope. Quintianus ordered her to be tortured. He had her stretched on a rack to be torn with iron hooks, burned with torches, and flogged. Noticing Agatha was enduring all the torture with a sense of optimism, he commanded she be subjected to a worse form of torture. This evil man ordered that her breasts be cut off.
He then sent her back to prison with an order of no food or medical attention. But the Lord gave her all the care she needed. He was her Sacred Physician and protector. Agatha had a vision of the apostle, St. Peter, who comforted her and healed her wounds through his prayers.
After four days, Quintianus ignored the miraculous cure of her wounds. He was bent on hurting her because her refusal injured his pride. So he had her stripped naked and rolled over naked over hot coals which were mixed with sharp ruins. When she was returned to prison, Agatha prayed, “Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul.”
Agatha is believed to have passed into Heaven around the year 251.
She was only 20 when she had to endure all these. To think that at 20, her heart was already affixed on her God: Loving Him above all things and dreading to offend Him. She would rather die in the worst way possible than displease her Maker. What a strong resolve.
There is a saying that in the matters of style, swim with the tide but in the matters of principle, be immovable as a rock! This was classic Agatha. For a 20 year old, that’s a lot of courage: then again, it’s obvious there is a specialized knowledge she has of her God which has fueled this special relationship and bond.
I can’t help but ponder on what we are really willing to endure for the love of God especially as youths or what we can forgo simply for the fear of Him. In one of my previous articles, titled …radi Christi; because of Christ https://medium.com/@ucokonmah/radi-christi-because-of-christ-190d77b5bf5f I emphazsized on this. As modern day youth, do we go to God simply for what we can get from Him, like using Him? Or do we truly crave this God of this girl Agatha. Do we yearn longingly for Him? Do we want to be in this love relationship with Him? and share something special with him?
St Agatha’s story opens my eyes and mind to what it truly means to be dogged in Christ. Here is also a call for retrospection of what my/our priorities truly are when it comes to going deeper in love with Him and what is truly keeping us from attaining that “height” with Him.
This girl Agatha is commonly featured in religious art with shears, tongs, or breasts on a plate.
St. Agatha is the patron saint of Sicily, bell founders, breast cancer patients, Palermo, rape victims, and wet nurses. She is also considered to be a powerful intercessor when people suffer from fires. Her feast day is celebrated on February 5.
Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith and purity. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger and also help us feel a glimpse of that dogged love you felt for Christ. Amen
Copyright © Uc-Okonmah 2017