St. Agnes

Homily for January 21st

by Fr. Tommy Lane

(The following is an excerpt of the homily)

St. Agnes whom we celebrate today had certainly spent time with the Lord and had been formed by him in a short time, being martyred in Rome at about the age of twelve on January 21st. When her virginity was under threat she chose to remain faithful to Christ. She is a powerful example for these times. She became one of the most widely honored Roman martyrs. At first a chapel was built over her grave and later a shrine where now stands the Basilica of St. Agnes outside the Walls. At Mass today in the Basilica of St. Agnes two lambs are blessed and are then given to the Benedictine Sisters of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere who will rear them until Holy Thursday when they are sheared and the Pallia will be made from their wool which the Pope will give to the new archbishops on June 29th.

St. Ambrose wrote thus of St. Agnes,

Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege.

St. Agnes, pray for us.

© Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.