Profile and Biography of Catholic Saint Agnes of Rome

Saint Agnes
Saint Agnes.

There are several names for Saint Agnes:

Saint Ines

Saint Ines of Rome

Saint Ines del Campo

Meaning: lamb, chaste

Important Dates for Saint Agnes

c. 291: born
January 21, c. 304: martyred

Feast Day: January 21

Agnes Is a Patron Saint

Purity, Chastity, Virgins, Rape Victims
Betrothed couples, Engaged couples
Gardeners, Crops, Girl Scouts

Symbols & Representation of Saint Agnes

Woman with a Lamb
Woman with a Dove
Woman with a Crown of Thorns
Woman with a Palm Branch
Woman with a Sword at her Throat

Life of Saint Agnes

We have no reliable information about the birth, life, or death of Agnes. Despite this, she is one of Christianity’s most popular saints. Christian legend has it that Agnes was a member of Roman noble family and raised to be a Christian. She became a martyr at the age of 12 or 13 during the persecution of Christians under the reign of emperor Diocletian because she would not give up her virginity.

Martyrdom of Saint Agnes

According to the legends, Agnes refused to marry the son of a prefect because she had pledged her virginity to Jesus. As a virgin, Agnes couldn’t be executed for this affront, so she was to be raped first and then executed, but her chastity was miraculously preserved. The wood that was supposed to burn her would not ignite, so a soldier beheaded Agnes.

Legend of Saint Agnes

Over time, accounts of stories about the martyrdom of Saint Agnes became embellished, with her youth and chastity growing in importance and emphasis. For example, in one version of the legend Roman authorities send her to a brothel where her virginity might be taken, but when a man looked upon her with impure thoughts God struck him blind.

Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Traditionally on the feast day of Saint Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs. The wool of these lambs is then taken and used to make pallia, circular bands which are sent along to archbishops around the world. The inclusion of lambs in this ceremony is thought to be due to the face that the name Agnes is so similar to the Latin word agnus, which means “lamb”.