Agatha of Sicily
Feast Day: February 5
During the first three centuries of the Church, Rome persecuted Christians. Roman emperors sent out letters and told Roman governors to force Christians to deny their God.
The governors then arrested known Christians. But many refused to give up their belief in the God who had raised Jesus to new life. So Rome put these faithful Christians to death. The Church honors them as martyrs — people who lived and died for what they believed.
Agatha was one of these martyrs. We know only a little about this saint. One thing we do know is that she was born in Sicily in the third century. As a teenager, she decided to remain a virgin. But an important man named Quintianus wanted to marry her.
At that time—251 AD—Emperor Decius was persecuting Christians. So when Agatha said no to marriage, Quintianus reported to officials that she was a Christian.
But Agatha refused to deny God’s love. So Quintianus, who was the governor of her district in Rome, sent her to a house where men tried to do evil things to Agatha. But her goodness won them over. Then Roman soldiers tortured and, finally, killed her (likely between 251-253 AD). As she died, Agatha is said to have praised God for his faithfulness to her. She asked God to welcome her into his kingdom.
Soon legends grew about Agatha. (This happens when people do courageous things. People begin to talk about them with wonder.) Agatha became a hero to Christians who faced persecution and death. Her example inspired their own faithfulness.
In some parts of Italy, St. Agatha’s intercession is invoked against volcanic eruptions, fire, and lightning. In recent years she has been petitioned in prayers for people suffering from breast cancer.