St. Agatha

Saint Agatha of Sicily (died ca. 251) is a Christian saint. Her memorial is on 5 February. Agathawas born at Catania, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251. She is one of seven women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
She is the patron saint of Catania, Molise, Malta, San Marino and Zamarramala, a municipality of theProvince of Segovia in Spain. She is also the patron saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna.
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius (250-253) in Catania, Sicily, for her steadfast profession of faith.
Her written legend comprises "straightforward accounts of interrogation, torture, resistance, and triumph which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature", and are reflected in later recensions, the earliest surviving one being an illustrated late 10th-century passio bound into a composite volume  in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, originating probably in Autun, Burgundy; in its margin illustrations Magdalena Carrasco detected Carolingian or Late Antiqueiconographic traditions.
Although the martyrdom of St. Agatha is authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had even in antiquity spread beyond her native place, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death.
According to Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea of ca. 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God, Fifteen year old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel.
The madam finding her intractable, Quinitianus sends for her, argues, threatens, and finally has her put in prison. Among the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts. After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion. Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burned at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha died in prison, according to the Legenda Aurea in "the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time ofDecius, the emperor of Rome."
VENERATION : 
Catania Cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant'Agata) is dedicated to Saint Agatha.
Saint Peter Healing 
Agatha, by the 
Caravaggio - follower Giovanni Lanfranco,
 ca 1614
According to Maltese tradition, during the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius (AD 249-251), Agatha, together with some of her friends, fled from Sicily, and took refuge in Malta. Some historians believe that her stay on the island was rather short, and she spent her days in a rock hewn crypt at Rabat, praying and teaching the Christian Faith to children. After some time, Agatha returned to Sicily, where she faced martyrdom. Agatha was arrested and brought before Quintanus, praetor of Catania, who condemned her to torture and imprisonment. The crypt of St. Agatha is an underground basilica, which from early ages was venerated by the Maltese. At the time of St. Agatha's stay, the crypt was a small natural cave which later on, during the 4th or 5th century, was enlarged and embellished.
PATRONAGE : 
Saint Agatha's breasts sculpted
 in the fortification walls, Mons, Var
She is the patron saint of Catania, Sorihuela del Guadalimar (Spain), Molise, San Marino and Malta.
Saint Agatha is a patron saint of Malta, where in 1551 her intercession through a reported apparition to a Benedictine nun is said to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion.
Agatha is the patron saint of bell-founders because of the shape of her severed breasts,and also of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients.
She is claimed as the patroness of Palermo. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
Agatha is buried at the Badia di Sant'Agata, Catania. She is listed in the late 6th-centuryMartyrologium Hieronymianum associated with Jerome, and the Synaxarion, the calendar of the church of Carthage, ca. 530. Agatha also appears in one of the carmina of Venantius Fortunatus. Two early churches were dedicated to her in Rome, notably the Church of Sant'Agata dei Goti in via Mazzarino, a titular church with apse mosaics of ca. 460 and traces of a fresco cycle, overpainted by Gismondo Cerrini in 1630. In the 6th century the church was adapted to Arian Christianity, hence its name "Saint Agatha of Goths", and later reconsecrated by Gregory the Great, who confirmed her traditional sainthood. Agatha is also depicted in the mosaics of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, where she appears, richly dressed, in the procession of female martyrs along the north wall. Her image forms an initial I in the Sacramentary of Gellone, from the end of the 8th century.

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