On January 21, the universal church will commemorate the feast of St. Agnes, a young Roman girl who chose martyrdom over giving up her virginity in marriage.
St. Agnes took a vow that she would never blemish her purity. She often said, “Jesus Christ is my only spouse.” However, she was also very beautiful and many young men were interested in her. She would have none of them, as her happiness was elsewhere.
Trouble arose when Procop, the son of the Roman governor fell in love with her. He tried to win her as his wife by giving her extravagant gifts and making many promises. However, Agnes loved God above all things and no earthly gift could sway her. She told Procop “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!"
Procop then became very angry and denounced Agnes as a Christian. She was dragged before the governor who tried to persuade her to change her mind. She was unwavering. He then had her bound with chains, but to no avail. Not wanted to kill her while she was a virgin, he had her dragged through the streets to a brothel. However, it is said that any man who tried to rape her was struck blind.
It was decided that she was to be burned alive. But when she was tied to the stake, the flames would not ignite the wood. In a final attempt, the officer in charge of the execution pulled out his sword and killed her.
St. Agnes was only 12 or 13 years old when she died and is held to be the patron saint of chastity. She is represented by a white lamb, representing purity.