By Catholic Digest Staff
Feast Day: January 21
A Roman Christian girl of legendary beauty, Agnes was executed during the Christian persecution of 303 AD for her unfailing devotion to Jesus and refusal of infatuated suitors. While there is strong evidence of the martyrdom and cult of an “Agnes,” many scholars wonder if she was actually a symbolic figure, a collection of the accounts of the many young virgins who were persecuted for embracing Christ and purity. A play on her name, Agnes, and the Latin word for lamb “agnus,” also a symbol of purity, caused the lamb to become her emblem. Each year at the church dedicated to her namesake in Italy, two white lambs are brought inside on her feast day and blessed. The nuns of the St. Agnes convent weave their wool into pallia, traditional vestments for the archbishops, which are placed on the altar in St. Peters during the feast of Peter and Paul. The pallia are then sent “from the body of blessed Peter,” to archbishops around the globe.