Feast Day 5 February: Sencelles
Agatha, beautiful daughter of a distinguished family in Catana Sicily,
attracted the attentions of Senator Quintianus. Fired by lust and
avarice, he was hopeful of satisfying both by carrying out the emperor’s
edict against Christians. Spurned, he ordered her to be placed in
a brothel where she fought off assaults upon her virtue.
His next assault was to have her stretched on the rack where she
was tortured with iron hooks and burning. Her constant cheerfulness
enraged the Senator and he commanded her breasts should be cut off.
St Peter the Apostle appeared to her in her cell and she was
miraculously healed but four days later Quintianus enraged by her
steadfastness caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed
with potsherds. This torture was interrupted by the eruption of Mt
Etna. Some time later she was beheaded. Legend also has it that
Quintianus, on his way to take possession of her estates, fell
from his horse and was drowned.
Paintings of her often showed her carrying her breasts on a platter
although in the Middle Ages these were euphemistically referred to
as buns or bells!
Some of her relics are in Capri but most were returned to Catana in
1l27. On several occasions, her veil has been taken from her tomb and
paraded around the town to avert eruptions.