Today the church remembers Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 304.Under orders from the Emperor Diocletian, in 304, the giant politico-military machine of the Roman Empire went to work to rid itself of the troublesome subversives called Christians. Many children were the innocent victims of this efficient blood purge. Agnes of Rome is a famous example. She was reared a Christian, and though just a young teenager when the persecution began, Agnes wished to witness for the faith. A Roman official was attracted to her and might easily have saved her life. He offered her jewelry and many pleasant gifts if she would renounce the Lord and her parents and worship the Roman gods. Infatuated by the innocent girl, the official then attempted to seduce her. She resisted and he became enraged. He had her tortured and publicly stripped and abused. At the culmination of this hideous ordeal she was killed with a sword. The Roman world was stunned by the story of Agnes" suffering, much as our world was stunned by The Diary of Anne Frank. In the next generation, when Christianity was made legal, a shrine was erected in her honor in Rome, and the Song of Mary, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), was sung in thanksgiving for the witness of young Agnes. God had indeed “brought down the powerful from their thrones” and “lifted up the lowly.” Grant that we may share her pure faith in you. Amen.
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Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.