was born in a rich family, but no one knows exactly when and where
she was born. She has been consecrated to God from her tender years.
It is agreed that she was tortured in Catania, in the persecution
of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of
our Lord 251. Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying
both his lust and avarice on Agatha's person and estate by means
of the emperor's edict against the Christians. He therefore caused
her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catania. She wept,
and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went. On her
appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands
of Aphrodisia - a most wicked woman and her six daughters (all prostitutes).
The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems
against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures
or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased
with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and
by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole
month she was there.
ordered Agatha to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first
interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was
the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. The judge, offended
at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and taken
to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future
conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at
the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ
was her life and her salvation. To this response, Quintianus then
ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually
accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks,
and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged
to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast
to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made
him this reproach: "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture
this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself?
" After this torture, she was sent back to prison, with a severe
order that food should not be allowed her. But God would be himself
her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her,
healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light.
four days later, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of
her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed
with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made
this prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me
from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world,
and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul." Then,
she died in peace.
name is found in the litany of saints and in all martyrologies,
both Greek and Latin. St. Agatha is the patron saint for breast
cancer patients, bell-founders, firemen, nurses and torture victims.
is said that, through her intercession, Malta (where she is honored
as patroness of the island) was preserved from the Turks who invaded
it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to
be distributed in many places.
She was put
in the hands of Aphrodisia (Wicked woman & her 6 prostitute daughters).
Buffeted and sent several
times to prison.
Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone
all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil."
Stretched on the rack,
the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches
Her breast were tortured
and afterwards cut off.
To Quintianus:"Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my
body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself?"
Sent to a
dark dungeon, with a severe order that no medicine and food were allowed
to be given to her.
After her wounds were
miraculously cured, she was rolled naked over live coals mixed with
broken potsherds. She was saved by a mysterious earthquake
She was sent to prison
for the last time when she offered her soul to God. (251A.D.)
"Lord, my Creator,
you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from
the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now
Agatha Today - Catania
three days, Catanians and tourists swarm in the streets, numbering
to almost a million. During those intense days, Catania turns into
one and only crowd marching behind the Patron. The 4th and 5th of
February stand out among the three days of festivities, when St.
Agatha passes through the neighbourhoods on her silver carriage
(Catanians call it, specifically, "fercolo" or, more commonly,
first day of celebration, the 3th of February, develops itself into
three distinct moments: the long and solemn Midday procession for
"the offering of wax" to which civil, religious and militar
authorities all attend bearing the standards of the City, the Province,
and the University. In the afternoon, at 3.00 PM, St. Agatha's international
cross-country race takes place through the old and new streets of
the town-centre. Finally, in the evening, later than 8.00 PM, grandious
fireworks are on display in piazza Duomo.
the late morning of the 5th of February, a Pontifical Mass is celebrated
by a specially invited prelate.
brought back to life after every eruption of the Etna volcano, has
bestowed some of the most beautiful churches and monuments to the
Patron. On the inside of "S. Agata al Carcere", the III
century remains of the gaol, where St. Agatha faced her martyrdom
and death, are still to be seen. The Church of "S. Agata alla
Fornace" (in piazza stesicoro) and "S. Agata la Vetere"
(the first Cathedral of Catania, and supposedly the first burial-place
of the Saint) are non far. Many other places in Catania keep alive
the memory of St. Agatha: "Badia S. Agata", the "stele"
in piazza dei Martiri, the fountain in via Dusmet, the Norman-baroque
Agatha is the Patron of 44 italian municipalities, and 14 of them
bear her name. Besides, St. Agatha is among the Patrons of Malta
and S. Marino. In Spain, she is worshipped in Andalucia and in
Jèria (Valencia). The chapel in Barcelona where the Catholic
sovereigns welcomed Christopher Columbus back from his first trip
to America, is dedicated to St. Agatha. A peculiar tradition takes
place in Zamarramal (Segovia): on the 5th of February, women are
the masters of the city. In Portugal, St. Agatha is the Patron
of Agueda. In Germany Agatha is the Patron of Aschaffemburg. In
France, St. Agatha is venerated in Le Fournet (Normandy). The
cult was grandiosely celebrated in Costantinople, while in Greece
the Saint is extremely popular, specially in the Aetolian region.
Even in India, in Viayawala, a cult of St. Agatha exists, and
in Argentina, where sbe is the Patron of firemen. The cult is
widely spread in Italy, specially in Lombardia, but also in Rome,
Florence and Naples. (ragusaonline.com)
is said that Agatha, together with some of her friends, escaped
from sicily because of the christians' persecution in 249 A.D. For
a short time, they hid in the catacombs in rabat - Malta. She spent
this time in Malta, praying and teaching the Christian Faith to
crypt where she used to pray was named after her, as were the nearby
Catacombs and later on the Church now located over the crypt. At
the time of St. Agatha's stay, the crypt was a small natural cave
which later on, about 1000 years ago, was enlarged and embellished
to the present state. In this crypt there is the main altar dedicated
to the Saint. Till 1647, this altar was still used for worship.
Agatha thought about going back to her native place, that is, Sicily,
even at the risk of being persecuted. On landing in Sicily, Agatha
was brought before Quintanus, who condemned her to torture and imprisonment,
which led to her death.
1551, according to the writings of Giacomo Bosio (Istoria della
Sacra Religione Ill.ma Militia di San Giovanni Gerosolimitano -
1602) a pious nun from the Benedictine Monastery of Mdina, had a
vision, in which she was told that the enemy was about to seige
the city of Mdina. But if the marble statue of St. Agatha would
be placed on the Walls of Mdina and Holy Mass will be celebrated,
the city would not fall in the hands of the enemy. Eventually the
Turks besieged the city but were not able of conquering it, notwithstanding
that thousands of arrows were shot against the Maltese. The Turks
lost all hope and retreated to the shores of St. Paul’s Bay
where they embarked their ships in haste and left the island. To
commemorate this event, a votive procession from Mdina Cathedral
to this church takes place every year, on the nearest Sunday to
the 5th February, feast day of the Saint.
to read about St. Agatha's church, situated just
above the Crypt and Catacombs.
to read more info. about St. Agatha's Crypt.
Agatha's tower is a former Knight's stronghold located in the north
west of Malta. The seventeenth century tower offers views over to
the neighbouring islands of Comino and Gozo. It was completed in
1649 during the Grand Mastership of Juan de Lascaris-Castellar to
a design by Antonio Garsin.
tower was painted red so it could be seen from a distance amongst
the sunbleached Malta coastline and is also known as the Red tower
or Mellieha tower due to its close proximity to the resort village.
Agatha's tower also served as a military base during both World
Wars and was used as a radar station by the Maltese army.
the close of the 20th century the tower was in poor repair with
one turret completely missing and another turret severely damaged.
The Tower was the substantially restored by Din l-Art Helwa starting
in 1999, with restoration being completed in 2001, assisted by
substantial industrial sponsorship. As part of the restoration
work the damaged towers were replaced, the walls and were roof
rebuilt and eroded stone facing replaced, the interior walls scraped
and painted, the original floor uncovered, and the interior staircase
to the roof rebuilt. (Wikipedia.com)
tower is open to the public.
to watch a youtube video clip about St. Agatha's Tower, Mellieħa