Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Saint Agatha - Early Christian Martyr
My determination is built on rock and founded in Christ. Your promises are raindrops; your threats are rivers, and however hard they beat upon the foundation of my house, it cannot fail.
Once having said this, she knew she had sealed her own doom. She wanted to suffer the pains of martyrdom, although she didn t really understand what she was asking for. At the end of the period, she was brought back to Quintianus. Aphrodisia told him she was firm in her conviction; It would be easier to split rocks or reduce iron to the softness of lead than to move or recall that girl s mind from its Christian intention. He was furious that they had not broken this beautiful girl. He lusted after her. He summoned her before him at court.
He tried to reason with her. She was like stone. He tried to insult her. He tried to challenge her social standing. If you claim to be so highborn, why do you call yourself a slave of Christ? She answered, Because to be a slave of Christ is the greatest nobility. He tried to threaten her with extreme torture. She responded If you promise me wild beasts, the sound of Christ s name will soften them. If you try fire, Angels will serve me with a healing dew from Heaven. If you resort to wounds and torments, I have the Holy Spirit, through whom I make naught of all.
He could see he was getting nowhere, and the people in the court were actually laughing at him under their breath. In an effort to save face, he had her thrown in jail, to prepare her for torture. For her part, Agatha was joyful that she had been found worthy to suffer for the Lord. He came to the jail and made a last appeal to her. Give up your allegiance to Christ and adore the gods. She refused. He had her placed on a rack, and stretched so that she thought her arms and legs would come out of their sockets. She proclaimed: These pains are a joy to me. He ordered the jailers to twist her breasts for a long time and then cut them off. Then he had her placed back in her cell, and would not allow anyone to enter to care for her. She was denied food and water.
As Agatha lay in her cell, writhing in pain and agony, from the inhuman torture to which she had been subjected, an old man with a young boy came to her. He told her he was sent by the Lord to heal her. He ministered to her. She thanked him for helping her. He told her he was the Apostle Peter, whom the Lord had sent to aid her in her time of torment. She was completely healed. All the wounds disappeared; her breasts were restored. As Peter left, a great flash of light came into the cell. The jailers, frightened by that which they didn t understand, or want to understand, fled the cell. All the prisoners left. They told Agatha to flee the jail as well. She answered them: Far be it for me to run away and lose the crown of patience.
After a period of time, she was brought before Quintianius again. He was so angry when he saw her in perfect health, he couldn t contain himself. He asked her who healed her. She told him Our Lord Jesus had healed her. Quintianus exploded with anger. He told her never to say the name of Jesus again. She asked him what great torture he would inflict on her if she did. He ordered that she be placed naked on burning coals and shattered fragments of pottery.
While she was being tortured, a great earthquake destroyed the palace, killing two of Quintianius counselors, Silvano and Falconio. The people of the city went running through the streets, blaming what was happening to them on the horrendous way the child Agatha was being tortured by Quintianius. Her burned and bruised body was brought back to her cell. She prayed to the Lord: Lord Jesus Christ, you created me; you have watched over me from infancy, kept my body from defilement, preserved me from love of the world, made me withstand torture and granted me the virtue of patience in the midst of torments. Now receive my spirit and command me to come to your mercy. With that, she gave up her life to her Lord and Master.
For more about Saint Agatha and Saints of Sicily go here: http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Agatha.htm