Saint Agatha is the patroness of nurses, foundry workers, miners, jewelers, and Alpine guides. She is invoked against fire, earthquakes, famine, thunderstorms, and volcanic eruptions. In Italy, her feast day is celebrated with fireworks. According to some stories, Agatha was born in Sicily of noble parents in the third century. Her loveliness and kindness came to the attention of Quintian, governor of Sicily. He put her into prison for being a Christian, and there she underwent the extreme tortures that finally killed her. Art shows her holding a plate, a candle, or a house in flames.
It is certain that Agatha was a martyr. She probably died during the persecutions under the emperor Decius between 240 and 251. Agatha’s name came to be included in the canon of the Roman Mass. She is honored for her courage in suffering and in remaining pure for the sake of Christ.
Discuss the importance of remaining pure and of the role of modesty in this regard.
On Saint Agatha’s Day in the Middle Ages, candles and important items that could be destroyed by fire were blessed. Have the students list five things they would most desire to save in case of fire. Help the students see what their lists reveal about themselves.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: St. Peter healing St. Agatha by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1614. Public Domain via Wikimedia.