The Story and History of Saint Agatha (and a Giveaway)!
Agatha (Virgin and Martyr) was born in Sicily, of rich and noble parents – a child of benediction from the first, for she was promised to her parents before her birth, and consecrated from her earliest infancy to God. In the midst of dangers and temptations she served Christ in purity of body and soul, and she died for the love of chastity. Quintanus, who governed Sicily under the Emperor Decius, had heard the rumor of her beauty and wealth, and he made the laws against the Christians a pretext for summoning her from Palermo to Catania, where he was at the time. “O Jesus Christ!” she cried, as she set out on this dreaded journey, “all that I am is Thine; preserve me against the tyrant.”
And Our Lord did indeed preserve one who had given herself so utterly to Him. He kept her pure and undefiled while she was imprisoned for a whole month under charge of an evil woman. He gave her strength to reply to the offer of her life and safety, if she would but consent to sin, “Christ alone is my life and my salvation.” When Quintanus turned from passion to cruelty, and cut off her breasts, Our Lord sent the Prince of His apostles to heal her. And when, after she had been rolled naked upon potsherds, she asked that her torments might be ended, her Spouse heard her prayer and took her to Himself. She died in 251. Her feast day is February 5th.
Saint Agatha is the patron of Sufferers from diseases of the breast and she is also protector against fire. Why is Saint Agatha is the patron of Sufferers from diseases of the breast and protector against fire? St. Agatha is invoked by sufferers from diseases of the breast, because her breast was ordered to be torn by two slaves with iron shears. She is protector, also, against fire, from the particular mode of her martyrdom, her body being exposed to the flames, although, to increase the torture, she was not permitted to be burned to death, but taken back to her dungeon to die in agony. A year after her martyrdom, when Mount Etna was in eruption, the terrified inhabitants of Catania, in the district, took refuge at her shrine, and finding there her veil, they stuck it on a lance and marched towards the mountain, invoking her intercession, with a result that the fire was at once put out.
It is helpful to be able to recognise Saint Agatha in paintings, stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms of Christian art. The artistic representations reflect the life or death of saints, or an aspect of life with which the person is most closely associated. Saint Agatha is represented in Christian Art wearing a long veil. The veil of St. Agatha was drawn tightly round her lacerated bosom when, by God’s command, St. Peter came into her dungeon to heal it with precious ointments. Hence she is usually represented wearing a long veil. The shears are always in evidence, either in her hand or lying beside her. Sometimes she has a dish or salver containing a female breast. (Information Source: http://www.catholic-saints.info/)