Saint and Virtue of the Month

Young Saint Agnes is one of the most famous of the early Roman martyrs. Her name means 'lamb' or 'victim' in Latin and 'pure' in Greek. Remember that Jesus is sometimes called the 'lamb of God.'

Agnes lived in Rome at a time when it was against the law to be Christian. She was young, wealthy and beautiful. There were many young men in Rome who wanted to marry her, but she refused them all, saying that she had chosen Someone else. The suitors (young men who wanted to marry her) accused her of being a Christian.

Her accusers and the judge tried to frighten her into abandoning her faith by showing her instruments of torture, and fires, but she won't change her mind. Then they sent her to a prison where there were many rough people, but she still wasn't frightened. One young man tried to hurt her, but he was struck blind and fell down shaking. Agnes remained loyal to Christ throughout all these trials.

Finally, the judge ordered that she be executed. Everyone thought that this last threat would make her change her mind and worship another god. But Agnes went to the place of execution cheerfully, because she knew that she would meet her beloved Jesus soon. She was beheaded, and her body was buried close to Rome on the Nomentan Road (Via Nomentana).

A big church, called a basilica, was built in her honour over the place where she was buried about 50 years after she died. For centuries, two lambs have been brought to the church and blessed every year. The lambs are then reared in a cloister. When they have grown into sheep, their wool is used to make 'palliums' which are special stoles. The Pope sends these stoles to archbishops to wear on their shoulders as symbols of the sheep carried by the Good Shepherd.

Virtue of the Month


The virtue that moderates all the internal and external movements and appearance of a person according to his or her endowments, possessions, and station in life. Four virtues are commonly included under modesty: humility, studiousness, and two kinds of external modesty, namely in dress and general behavior.

Humility is the ground of modesty in that it curbs the inordinate desire for personal excellence and inclines one to recognize his or her own worth in its true light. Studiousness moderates the desire and pursuit of truth in accordance with faith and right reason. Its contrary vices are curiosity, which is an excessive desire for knowledge, and negligence, which is remissness in acquiring the knowledge that should be had for one's age and position in life. Modesty in dress and bodily adornments inclines a person to avoid not only whatever is offensive to others but whatever is not necessary. Modesty in bodily behavior directs a person to observe proper decorum in bodily movements, according to the dictum of St. Augustine, "In all your movements let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another."