20 April 2010

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

20 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano.

Born into a wealthy family in A.D. 1268 at Tuscany, Italy, Saint Agnes was known to be a pious child who at the age of six began nagging her parents to let her join a convent. At the age of nine the child Agnes was admitted to the convent at Montepulciano, Italy. In the convent, Agnes grew in holiness and reputation in advance of her age. When her spiritual director was appointed abbess of a new convent in Procena, Agnes followed her there.

At the age of fifteen, with the special permission of Pope Nicholas IV, Agnes became the abbess of Procena. As abbess, Saint Agnes required greater strictness of life in the convent. For herself, Saint Agnes was known to sleep on the ground, live on bread and water, and to have used a stone for a pillow.

At Procena, too, Saint Agnes gained a reputation for performing miracles. Tradition tells that people suffering from mental and physical ailments appeared cured when in her presence, and it is told that on several occasions she fed the entire convent from a handful of bread after praying over it.

Over the years, the places where Saint Agnes knelt in prayer often blossomed with flowers--violets, lilies, and roses. One year, on the night of the Feast of the Assumption, the Holy Mother appeared to Saint Agnes and placed the infant Jesus in her arms. As Saint Agnes cradled our Lord, she noticed that the Christ Child wore a small golden crucifix. When Saint Agnes awoke from her visionary trance, she held in her hands the small golden crucifix worn by our Saviour.

In A.D. 1298 Saint Agnes returned to Montepulciano. After being told by an angel to establish a new convent under the Rule of Saint Dominic she did so, beginning a Dominican convent there, and served as its prioress until her death.

During Saint Agnes' last illness, she was sent to bathe in curative waters; on her journey there, tradition tells that she brought back to life a child who had drowned. While Saint Agnes' health did not afterwards improve, a spring welled up near where Saint Agnes has received treatments and tradition tells the spring cured many others, and so earned the name the water of Saint Agnes.

Saint Agnes died on 20 April 1317. Many miracles have been attributed to her tomb. She was beatified in A.D. 1534 and canonized in A.D. 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.

Blessed Raymond of Capua, the confessor of Saint Catherine of Sienna, wrote a biography of Saint Agnes about fifty years after her death. Saint Catherine of Sienna referred to Saint Agnes as "Our mother, the glorious Agnes."


O God, who wast of times pleased 
to shed a heavenly dew over Thy Holy Virgin, Blessed Agnes, 
and to deck the places of her payer 
with divers fresh-blown flowers,
mercifully grant that we, through her payers, 
may be sprinkled with the unfailing dew of Thy blessing, 
and made fit to receive the fruits of immortality. 
Through Christ our Lord. 


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