18 Aug Saint Agapitus, Martyr
Today is the feast day of Saint Agapitus. Ora pro nobis.
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
Saint Agapitus (Agapetus) suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome. St. Agapitus was but 15 years old, when he was apprehended by the tyrant Aurelian, on account of being a Christian. As he unflinchingly proclaimed his belief in Christ, he was whipped with scourges and then cast into a dungeon, without any food, that he might thus be forced to forsake Christianity. When Antiochus, the prefect, found him, at the end of five days, more determined than before, he ordered a live coal to be put upon his head. The brave youth stood immovably under this torture, and praising God, said: “A head, which would wear an eternal crown in Heaven, must not hesitate to wear suffering and pain upon earth. Wounds and burns make my head the more worthy to be crowned with eternal glory.”
Antiochus, greatly provoked, ordered them to whip the holy youth till his body became one great wound, after which they hung him by the feet over a fire, hoping to suffocate him. But they failed; for, after a long silence, he addressed the prefect saying: “Behold, Antiochus, the people will say that all thy ingenuity, all thy wit, ends in smoke.” Enraged at this remark, the tyrant had him again cruelly whipped and ordered boiling water to be poured into the open wounds. After this, they knocked all his teeth out and broke his jaws with blows. God punished the tyrant for his cruelty; He caused him to fall from his seat and break his neck. Aurelian, hearing of this, ordered the martyr to be thrown to the wild beasts, but as they refused to touch him, he was finally beheaded. Thus ended the glorious martyrdom of the holy youth, Agapitus, in the year 275. (2)
Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name. (1)
Image: Crop of statue of Saint Agapitus of Palestrina in Museo del Duomo – Milan. Author: Marco Antonio Prestinari (circa 1605-1607). Bracket statue from Candoglia marble. (3)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff