Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Feast of St. Agnes

* A repost from 2010, but with some cool new links at the bottom in blue.  Also, make sure and run over to Waltzing Matilda to check out Charlotte's  beautiful coloring page for St. Agnes!

St. Agnes  is the sweet little saint who reminds us of the importance of purity.  She was only twelve years old when she was martyred during the reign of Diocletian (c.350) for having been betrayed as a Christian to the Roman authorities, but also for her steadfast purity. After refusing to offer incense at the altar of Minerva, Diocletian threatened the young girl with various tortures to entice her to relinquish her Faith.  But Agnes never lost her calm, accepting torture and death over sin.  When the soldiers tried to put her in chains, her tiny hands slipped through the cuffs, but she walked unbound to the place of her torture.  She was then stripped and dragged through the streets, but even as she predicted, Christ did "guard His own."   Most of the crowd, moved to pity, averted their eyes, but one young man, daring to turn his eyes upon Agnes, was struck blind and born away "half dead with pain and terror."  Offered riches and marriage,to save her life, Agnes refused, saying, "Christ is my Spouse: He chose me first, and His I will be."  And, thus her death sentence was procurred.  "At one stroke her head was severed from her body, and the angels bore her pure soul to Paradise."
What an example St. Agnes is in a world that's become so desensitized to sins of impurity!  Movies and television programs glorify sinful lives and we barely even think about it.  How many story lines out there don't include premarital affairs, extramarital affairs, and/or broken families?  If we're vigilant, we can avoid watching these things, but some things are harder to stay away from.  I'm constantly amazed, for instance, at the billboards and magazine covers at the checkout stands with their skimpily-clad models.  We turn the magazines around backward in their displays when we see these, but there's not much we can do about the billboards but avert our eyes.  It's shameful!  And our children are assaulted with this on a daily basis.  It's a hard thing to teach custody of the eyes and an awkward explanation to make to pure little souls.  But, it's a necessary one, more today than ever. It's vitally important that our sons learn a distaste for the kind of girl who would dress like a magazine cover, and our daughters learn the importance of dressing modestly. Our Lady warned the children at Fatima: "Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much." 

 Pope Pius XII, speaking to a sodality convention in Rome, reiterated the Blessed Mother's warning and took it a step further:

"You live in a world which is constantly forgetful of God and the supernatural, where the only interest of the crowd seems to be the satisfaction of temporal needs, well-being, pleasure, vanity....
"How many young girls there are who do not see any wrongdoing in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep. They certainly would blush if they could guess the impression they make and the feeling they evoke in those who see them. Do they not see the harm resulting from excess in certain gymnastic exercises and sports not suitable for virtuous girls? What sins are committed or provoked by conversations which are too free, by immodest shows, by dangerous reading. How lax have consciences become, how pagan morals!"

And this was in 1954!

The feast of St. Agnes is a wonderful opportunity to remind our children about the importance of purity and what that means in their own lives.  One of the important outer walls to defend agains impurity is modest dress.  Some of my favorite sites, not only teaching the importance of modesty, but cheerleading the beauty and benefit:

Marylike Standards of Modesty as set down by the Vatican.
Catholic Modesty website
* The Forgotten Virtue: Modesty in Dress on Catholic Online
* Modest Clothing at Catholic Home and Garden
* Colleen Hammond's website, with links to her book, Dressing with Dignity
* Betty Beguiles: Marriage Moxy and Modesty with a Vintage Twist 
(and check Betty Beguiles' blogroll for other modesty-inspired blogs and sites)

Interesting Facts and Ways to Celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes

*An interesting custom is observed on St. Agnes' feast day. Two lambs are brought from the Trappist abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome to the Pope to be blessed. On Holy Thursday they are shorn, and from the wool is woven the pallium which the pope gives to a newly consecrated metropolitan archbishop as a sign of his jurisdiction and his union with the pope.

*Saint Agnes is the patron saint of young girls; folk custom called for them to practice rituals on Saint Agnes' Eve (20–21 January) with a view to discovering their future husbands. This superstition has been immortalised in John Keats's poem, "The Eve of Saint Agnes."

*She is represented in art as a young blonde girl in robes, holding a palm branch in her hand and a lamb at her feet or in her arms.

*In the historical novel Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs, written by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman in 1854, Agnes is the soft-spoken teenage cousin and confidant of the protagonist, the beautiful noblewoman Fabiola. (Theresa is reading Fabiola now -- and is so excited that the feast days of the characters in her novel "coming to life" in the liturgical year right now!)
(The above four notes from Wikipedia) _

* A coloring page for the day can be found here (copy and print the engraving).  Or here -- a lovely one, compliments of Jordana at Curmudgeonry.
* There are a whole page of lamb crafts to choose from here -- and especially here, at Catholic Icing.
You can also find a bunch of thee cutest lamb cupcake and other goody ideas at here at Catholic Icing.  Plus, there is a simple lamb cake here -- or a more complicated one that I found here (Neither needs a special pan.).


Stacey said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I just discovered it while I was making up a notebook of all the Holy Days and feast days for the year. What a wonderful blog you have!
Blessings to you...
Stacey <><

Therese R said...

Thanks for all the information about St. Agnes. There are so many wonderful saints in the church and i can be overwhelming sometimes to know about all of them and why they are Saints.