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Agatha the Martyr

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February 5

Reading:

This Martyr, who was from Panormus (that is, Palermo) or perhaps Catania of Sicily, was a most comely and chaste virgin. After many exceedingly harsh torments, she gave up her spirit in prison at Catania in 251, because she did not consent to the seductions of Quintian, the Governor of Sicily. At her burial, an Angel placed a stone tablet on her grave inscribed with the words, "A righteous mind, self-determining, honor from God, the deliverance of her father-land." The following year this was fulfilled when Mount Etna erupted, spewing forth violent fire from which Catania was manifestly saved by Saint Agatha's prayers. The holy Martyr Agatha, the protectress and chief patroness of Sicily, is, with perhaps the exception of Saint Agnes of Rome, the most highly venerated Virgin Martyr of the West. Saint Damasus, Pope of Rome, and Saint Ambrose of Milan both wrote in praise of her.

Apolytikion of Martyr Agatha in the Fourth Tone

O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion of Martyr Agatha in the Fourth Tone

Let the Church be clad today with royal purple in a splendid covering dyed in the chaste and hallowed blood of Martyr Agatha, and let it now cry: Rejoice, O thou boast of Catania.