at prayer

St. Agatha
St Agatha
Feast Day 5 February: Sencelles
Martyred 251

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.