Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Story and History of Saint Agatha (and a Giveaway)!

Agatha (Virgin and Martyr) was born in Sicily, of rich and noble parents - a child of benediction from the first, for she was promised to her parents before her birth, and consecrated from her earliest infancy to God. In the midst of dangers and temptations she served Christ in purity of body and soul, and she died for the love of chastity. Quintanus, who governed Sicily under the Emperor Decius, had heard the rumor of her beauty and wealth, and he made the laws against the Christians a pretext for summoning her from Palermo to Catania, where he was at the time. "O Jesus Christ!" she cried, as she set out on this dreaded journey, "all that I am is Thine; preserve me against the tyrant."
And Our Lord did indeed preserve one who had given herself so utterly to Him. He kept her pure and undefiled while she was imprisoned for a whole month under charge of an evil woman. He gave her strength to reply to the offer of her life and safety, if she would but consent to sin, "Christ alone is my life and my salvation." When Quintanus turned from passion to cruelty, and cut off her breasts, Our Lord sent the Prince of His apostles to heal her. And when, after she had been rolled naked upon potsherds, she asked that her torments might be ended, her Spouse heard her prayer and took her to Himself. She died in 251. Her feast day is February 5th.

Saint Agatha is the patron of Sufferers from diseases of the breast and she is also protector against fire. Why is Saint Agatha is the patron of Sufferers from diseases of the breast and protector against fire? St. Agatha is invoked by sufferers from diseases of the breast, because her breast was ordered to be torn by two slaves with iron shears. She is protector, also, against fire, from the particular mode of her martyrdom, her body being exposed to the flames, although, to increase the torture, she was not permitted to be burned to death, but taken back to her dungeon to die in agony. A year after her martyrdom, when Mount Etna was in eruption, the terrified inhabitants of Catania, in the district, took refuge at her shrine, and finding there her veil, they stuck it on a lance and marched towards the mountain, invoking her intercession, with a result that the fire was at once put out.

It is helpful to be able to recognise Saint Agatha in paintings, stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms of Christian art. The artistic representations reflect the life or death of saints, or an aspect of life with which the person is most closely associated. Saint Agatha is represented in Christian Art wearing a long veil. The veil of St. Agatha was drawn tightly round her lacerated bosom when, by God's command, St. Peter came into her dungeon to heal it with precious ointments. Hence she is usually represented wearing a long veil. The shears are always in evidence, either in her hand or lying beside her. Sometimes she has a dish or salver containing a female breast. (Information Source:

I have always been intrigued with St. Agatha. However, it wasn't until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid 2008, that I thought it would be a good idea for she and I to get to know each other a little better! If the truth be told, some images of this virgin-martyr really creep me out! I mean, I realize that she was brutally tortured and she died a very painful death, but seeing her breasts lying on a tray (as if they were newly baked loaves of bread) is almost too disturbing for a newly diagnosed patient to see. It was as though I could almost visualize my breast being sliced off and put upon a tray for all to see. I know that probably seems weird to you but it was very scary and very depressing. Here are a couple of images that I find particularly alarming:

See what I mean?

And this! Well, this is just frightening!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'd like to host a giveaway for this Pink Prayer Book! I think all of us have been touched by breast cancer in some way. Either personally or by a family member or a friend. This is a wonderful little book of encouragement and I'm sure you know someone who would love to receive such a blessing. If you want to enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment or send me an email. I will choose the winner on November 2nd in honor of all the souls lost to breast cancer!

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away." Rev. 21:4

You can find more information about St. Agatha at Life of St. Agatha.


Jill said...

Wow, you are right about the pictures. Not sure that I would have the picture of her with the tray of breasts hanging in my house. Certainly can understand why she is a saint. Prayers for all those touched by breast cancer.

Gloria Dorah Sarki said...

Its a touching story indeed. Just found out she is the patron saint for breast cancer. I am curious to see the prayers in the book though...