As it coincided with her “octave day” a legend grew, saying that Agnes appeared on this day to her parents praying at her tomb, surrounded by a “bevy of virgins” (Introit), resplendent with light. “On her right hand was a lamb whiter than snow: it was Christ consecrating His union with His spouse.”
Martyred for her faith at the early age of twelve, Saint Agnes was one of the youngest-known named martyrs in the Communion of Saints. She was born into a wealthy Roman aristocratic family and was remarkable for her beauty as a child. But the true beauty was interior and as a youth she vowed to live a life of purity and chastity, consecrating herself as a virgin.
Even though she was not yet a teen, Roman suitors courted her trying to seduce her but she refused all advances. Word reached the Roman Emperor Diocletian who was relentless in his persecution of Christians. Rather than killing her right away, Diocletian’s men sought to discredit her by making her a prostitute and that would further discredit Christianity and dissuade others from becoming Christians. Naturally Agnes rejected all advances and refused to give in to the sins of the flesh. This further infuriated Diocletian and his cohorts who dragged her before the governor. He ordered that she be thrown into the fire. God preserved her beauty inside and out by allowing her to emerge unscathed. The governor then ordered that she be beheaded in a public display but even this the executioner botched, stabbing her in the throat where she died professing her undying loyalty to her One, True God in 304.
She was buried on the Via Nomentana where a cemetary stands in her name. Over the centuries Agnes, which means “chaste” in Greek, has become the standard for chastity, purity and virginal innocence and she is always depicted with a lamb – the Lamb of God – Agnus Dei. She (Agnete) is forever commemorated in the Nobis quoque peccatoribus – the Invocation of Saints in the Canon of the Holy Mass.
INTROIT Psalm 44:13-16,2
All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbours shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing. * My heart hath spoken a good word: I speak my works to the King. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat All the rich among the people…
O God, who each year dost gladden us by the feast of blessed Agnes, Thy virgin and martyr, grant, we beseech Thee, that while venerating her memory, we may ever strive to model our lives after her holy example. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
de S. Maria
O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, have bestowed upon mankind the reward of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech You, that we may enjoy the intercession of her through whom we have been found worthy to receive among us the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
for the Church
Mercifully hear the prayers of thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, that all adversities and errors being overcome, she may serve thee in security and feedom.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE II Corinthians 10: 17-18; 11: 1-2
Brethren: he that glory, let him glory in the Lord. For not that he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom God commendeth. Would to God you could bear with some little of my folly, but do bear with me. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ps 44:8
With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign. Because of truth, and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. Alleluia, alleluia. After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbours shall be brought to thee with gladness. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 13:44-52
The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 44. 3
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.
May Thy blessing, we beseech Thee, O Lord, plentifully descend upon these our offerings, that though Thy mercy they may both sanctify us and cause us to rejoice in the solemnity of Thy martyrs. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
de S. Maria
Through Your mercy, O Lord, and by the intercession of blessed Mary, ever virgin, the Mother of Your only-begotten Son, may this offering profit us for prosperity and peace, now and forevermore.
for the Church
Protect us, O Lord, who celebrate thy mysteries, that holding fast to divine things, we may serve thee with body and soul. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matt 13:45
The kingdom of Heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the votive mysteries we have received on this annual solemnity, may both succour us in this temporal life, and procure for us that which will have no end. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
de S. Maria
May this Communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin and, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, make us sharers of Your heavenly healing.
for the Church
We beseech thee, O Lord, our God, that thou permit not those, to whom thou hast given a participation of divine things to be subjected to human dangers. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.