Today, February 5th is the feast of Saint Agatha, one of the most venerated virgin martyrs in our faith, so much so that she is even one of the few mentioned in the Eucharistic prayer at mass. Saint Agatha dedicated her life to God at an early age as a consecrated virgin and she is considered a strong force and intercessor for our prayers. Even when faced with brutal torture, she stood by her faith in God and never wavered in her trust in Jesus and his plan.
As she was held in captivity against her will and was tortured by Quintanius, a high-ranking diplomat, she had a vision of Saint Peter the Apostle who healed all her wounds with his prayers.
St. Agatha’s red veil is believed to have stopped the flames during the eruption of Mt. Etna and saved many from danger. Because of this, she is honored each year in her hometown of Catania, Sicily, for a multi- day celebration from February 3rd-5th. As she is considered the patron Saint of Catania, this is a very important celebration for people there. The festival begins with the “della luminaria” procession where eleven large candles are paraded through the city.
Although she was not a nurse herself, Saint Agatha is widely recognized as the patron saint of nurses. This is a fitting title for her as nurses are frequently surrounded by suffering as they care for the patients. It is easy to be discouraged by the pain and suffering witnessed by those who are seriously ill, hospitalized, and homebound. Saint Agatha’s story, howeveer, shows nurses that there is meaning in suffering and a life spent with Jesus in Heaven awaits. I have always truly felt that nursing is a calling and fulfills God’s heavenly work on earth through corporal works of mercy. Nursing brings so many opportunities to spread God’s love and truly make a difference to a patient experiencing hardships.
As we reflect on the life and history of Saint Agatha during her feast day, we are reminded that any difficulties, hardships, or sufferings we experience here on earth will be united with Jesus’ suffering on the cross. She had every reason to give up and lose faith during her time of brutal torture and suffering, however, she held fervent in her faith and was healed. Many of our daily difficulties or sufferings can seem small or trivial in comparison, and it is so important that our students have the example of many saints like Saint Agatha who can guide and intercede for them during their challenges. They learn from the saints that facing difficulties, although they may seem minor in elementary school, can transform our hearts and sanctify us. What a beautiful gift we are able to pass on to the students at SBCA!
Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us Your martyr, St. Agatha, as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the virtue she showed in enduring her many sufferings with courage, resignation, and joy. Amen.
AUTHOR: Angela Montalbano, School Nurse