By Father Christopher Kubat
The Universal Church celebrated the memorial of St. Agatha, virgin and martyr Feb. 5.
St. Agatha was born in Sicily around the year 231, at a time in the Church when it was illegal to practice the Catholic faith. It is said that her beauty attracted many suitors. Cooperating with the promptings of Jesus by the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, she accepted the divine invitation to live a celibate life as a consecrated virgin. One suitor would have nothing of it. His name was Quintianus.
Unfortunately, Quintianus was not an ordinary man. Because of his position as a local judge, he thought he could force Agatha to not only give in to his advances, but to marry him. Since Agatha was filled with the grace of God, she adamantly refused by pointing out that she was a sheep who only answered to the Divine Shepherd. At this, Quintianus had her imprisoned in a house of prostitution.
Despite being a source of much suffering, she continued to be resolute in her vow to Jesus while evangelizing all the while. Quintianus then had her imprisoned in the local jail and tortured beyond description. She was rolled on a bed of hot coals mixed with sharp objects as just one torment. She eventually died, preferring to lay her life down for the Lamb of God rather than turn her back on her faith and her vow of celibacy.
Unfortunately, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Today, violent men still are trying to force women to be with them and, even worse, to abort their unborn babies. This was the reason we started St. Gianna’s Women’s Homes. Just recently, a man, in trying to prevent a young woman from leaving him, mutilated parts of her body after hitting her with his car. She is now safe and sound at St. Gianna’s with her small children.
We do not know if Agatha’s violent persecutors repented. I can only imagine that Agatha prayed for the conversion of her tormenters. We too pray for the conversion of the abusive men who mistreat the women who come to St. Gianna’s, and their children, who are often abused as well.
Since the donations we accept for running St. Gianna’s are entirely from private sources, we are most grateful for the love and generosity of our supporters, for without it, we would not be able to help the many women who are escaping violent men along with their children, like the lady mentioned above. Please know that all of our benefactors are in our special prayers. St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, pray for us!