Let us go back in history! It is some time around 230AD. A beautiful girl was born to a noble family in Catania, Sicily. She was named Agatha. She grew to be an attractive young lady and naturally men sought her out for marriage. However, at an early age, she had decided to give her love only to Jesus, making a vow of virginity, so that she would spend her life in prayer and in service to others.
At the time, Emperor Decius had decreed that all the people of the Roman Empire had to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. Christians were sought out and persecuted when they refused to obey. It is believed that at this time, Agatha and some of her friends fled from Sicily to take refuge in Malta. She spent her short stay there in a crypt, where she spent her time in prayer and teaching children about Jesus and the Faith. But after a short time, Agatha felt she had to be a witness to her faith in her own country.
On her return to Sicily, Quintiano, a high-ranking officer in the Roman Empire, forced Agatha to renounce her Christian Faith and marry him. Agatha stood firm. She was not only imprisoned, but she was subjected to horrifying tortures and indignities, that not only mutilated her body but humiliated her as a woman.
She died in prison, a few hours after her last torture.
She is the patron saint of Sicily. She is also one of the patron saints of Malta. The crypt where she stayed during her stay on the Island is still venerated in Rabat, Malta, and visited by both locals and foreigners.
The saints of the Church are considered to be heroes because of their virtue of courage. The martyred saints are admired for their courage in martyrdom, other saints are admired for their courage in being steadfast in their love of God in spite of all setbacks. All saints continued to be courageous because they had Christ in their heart.
We cannot learn courage from a book! It is a ’step by step’ process that allows our children to have confidence in themselves and be able to take ‘healthy risks’. With our guidance the process will also develop into moral courage that will make them strong to stand up for what is right, for what they believe in.
From a very young age, Agatha consecrated herself to God. One day, a man asked her to marry him, however, she insisted that she already married Jesus. They tried to convince Agatha, but she was determined to keep her decision to devote her life for Jesus.