Saint Agatha

Saint Agatha

Born: c231 Sicily

Died:  c251

Feast Day: 5th February

Patron Saint: Bell Foundries, Nurses, Sicily, Malta, Breast Cancer, Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruption, Fire, Protection of Sicily, Mount Etna

Shrine: Badia di Sant’Agata Catania Sicily, Sant’Agata del Goti Rome

Symbol in Art: Breasts on a dish, Pincers, Burning Torch, Veil

Also known as: Saint Agatha of Sicily

Saint Agatha was born to wealthy, Christian parents in the 3rd Century at the base of Mount Etna, she decided at a young age to remain a virgin.  She was a beautiful girl, who caught the eye of a Roman prefect Quintian sent by the Emperor Decius to govern Sicily, who she resisted

Quintian, angered by the rejection and knowing she was a Christian, ordered her arrest, thinking she would change her mind towards him.  Agatha continued to resist his advances at which he imprisoned her in a brothel.  Amazingly, she managed to maintain her virginity which further angered Quintian who ordered her to be taken to a prison and tortured by having her breasts removed with pincers.

Her wounds were healed in a vision of St Peter, whereupon she was dragged across burning coals and sharp stones.  It is thought she died 4 days later in prison.

References: The Bible and the Saints, G. Duchet-Suchaux M. Pastourea, Flammarion 1994
Saints, Robin Blake, HarperCollins