Today's Saint (February 5): Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Agatha (d. 251) was born of noble parentage in Sicily. When she refused the solicitations of the Roman counsel governor Quintianus, he had her imprisoned and tortured in order to get her to change her mind.
When that didn't work, she was sentenced to be burned at the stake, but an earthquake occurred and she was spared that fate, although her torture became even more henious. According to pious legend, Quintianus ordered her breasts to be removed, but she was miraculously visited by Saint Peter and an angel in the night and was healed.
Agatha was subsequently "rolled" on broken pieces of pottery and then also on live coals, and yet she stedfastly refused to sacrifice to the idols as requested.
Shortly after that ordeal, she died while praying.
She is the Patron Saint of her city, Cantania, bell founders, breast cancer victims and is also invoked against fires and earthquakes. Agatha is remembered most vividly for her desire to place Christ above all else.
The accompanying picture (an oil on slate) depicts Saint Peter and the angel visiting Agatha, and was created by Alessandro Turchi (Italian, 1578-1649).
As the day's Tract reminds us, those who suffer for righteousness sake will not be disappointed. "They that sow in tears: shall reap in joy. V. They that now go on their way weeping, and bear forth good seed. V. they shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring their sheaves with them." (The day's tract, page E 30, The People's Anglican Missal)
Books Worth Considering
Their Blood Cries Out
The Treasury of Saints and Martyrs
Fox's Book of Martyrs
Reason Is Beguiled: On the Mystery of Martyrdom and of Total Self Gift
By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church