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April 20

St Agnes of Montepulciano - April 20

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

Nun, “The Miracle Worker”

(1268 – 1317)

“What Jesus and I want is that from now on you do not weep with these eyes over temporal works or misfortunes, but only for love of God, abandoning all earthly attachment, and keeping your heart free to love the Divine Spouse.”

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano after restoring sight to a young nun

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Agnes was born on January 28, 1268 in Gracciano, in a little village near Montepulciano, Italy to the affluent De Segni family. When she was born, mysterious flashing bright lights illuminated the house where she was born, announcing her birth.

By four years of age, Agnes had learned to pray the Our Father and Hail Mary, often preferring to forsake children’s games to speak with God in a more secluded corner of the yard. At the age of six, she began to urge her parents to allow her to join a convent.

When they told her that she was too young, she begged them to move to nearby Montepulciano, so she could make regular visits to the monastery there. The family did not move, but they did allow Agnes to make visits to see the nuns there.

Attacked by a Flock of Crows

On one of these visits, Agnes was traveling in Montepulciano with her mother and the women of the household, and, as they passed a hill on which stood a house of prostitution, a flock of crows swooped down and attacked the girl. Screaming and plunging, they managed to scratch and frighten her badly before the women drove them away. Upset by the incident, the women mutually agreed that the birds must have been devils, and that they resented the purity and chastity of Agnes, who would one day drive them from that hilltop. Agnes did, in fact, found a monastery there many years later.

Entered Monastery with “Sisters of the Sack” at Nine

At the age of nine, Agnes convinced her parents to allow her to enter a Franciscan monastery of women in the city known as the “Sisters of the Sack”, after the rough religious habit they wore.  She received the permission of the pope to be accepted into this life at such a young age, normally against Church law.  The child, Agnes, was such a model of virtue that she was an inspiration of holiness to those around her.

Abbess at Fifteen

At the age of fifteen, Agnes was sent to a new foundation, which was Dominican, at Proceno in the county of Orvieto, Italy. There, Pope Nicholas IV made her abbess – at the tender age of fifteen. On the day she was chosen abbess, small white crosses softly showered her and the congregation. Considering herself unworthy of the post she had received, Agnes redoubled her prayers and sacrifices: she only ate bread and water, the cold ground was her bed, and a stone her pillow.

Devoted to Eucharist and Holy Mary

Agnes was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother. In fact, it has been reported that the Blessed Mother visited her on numerous occasions. During one of these visits, she allowed Agnes to hold the Christ Child, but Agnes was hesitant to give him back. When she awoke from her trance, she was holding the small gold crucifix the infant Jesus was wearing.

On another visit, Our Lady handed her three small stones and told her that she should use them to build a monastery. When Agnes told her that she had no intention of going anywhere, the Blessed Virgin told her to keep the stones–three, in honor of the Blessed Trinity–and one day she would need them.

Her Religious Life

Agnes had a strong prayer life and practiced severe penances. She was known to levitate up to two feet in the air while praying. For fifteen years, Agnes fasted on bread and water. At the age of thirty, however, because of poor health, her spiritual director instructed her to eat other foods.

While in the monastery, Agnes earned a reputation for performing miracles: people suffering from mental and physical illnesses were cured solely by her presence. She was reported to have “multiplied loaves”, creating many from a few on numerous occasions, evoking the Gospel miracle of the loaves and fishes.

While being treated for her terminal illness, Agnes brought a drowned child back from the dead.  At the site of her treatment, a spring welled up that did not help her health, but healed many other people.

Built a Monastery

The people of Montepulciano wanted so much for her to return to them that they destroyed a house of prostitution and in its place built a monastery for Agnes. In her hometown, she established in this house nuns of the order of St. Dominic.

Agnes continued to be a great example of piety, humility, and charity to all for the remainder of her life. Through a long illness she showed great patience and grace, offering her sufferings up to God for the redemption of souls.

Her Death

Agnes died at Montepulciano on April 20, 1317 at the age of forty-nine. Her incorrupt body was removed to the Dominicans’ church of Orvieto in 1435, where it remains.

Born :                   January 28, 1268, in Gracciano, Tuscany, Italy

Died:                    April 20, 1317 age 49 in Montepulciano, Italy

Beatified:            1534

Canonized:         December 10, 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII

Feast Day:          April 20

Patron Saint:     Montepulciano, Italy

Source:

Reflection

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano became a trusted and holy leader of her order at a very young age. She was a prominent woman in the Church during a time when opportunities for women to play leadership roles were limited. Her life underscores the important contributions that women have made and continue to make to the Church and society. Saint Agnes teaches us that, regardless of our age or position in life, we can positively influence everyone with whom we come into contact.

Whether are man or women, girl or boy, in a position of authority or at the bottom of the ladder, how can you positively influence whom you come into contact today to show the light of Jesus?

Prayers

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano, we ask for your intercession and blessings on our spiritual journey.

Help us, like you did, to embrace our vocations, no matter our age or status, with zeal and devotion, recognizing the universal call to holiness for all Christians. Inspire us to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship with God through prayer and contemplation.

May we, like you, show compassion and care for those in need, recognizing that true spirituality should manifest in acts of charity and kindness toward others.

Teach us to accept suffering as a means of purification and growth, and to trust in God’s guidance and providence in all aspects of our lives.

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Our Lady appeared to this saint, and allowed her to hold and caress Baby Jesus

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 20 April – St Agnes of Montepulciano

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints. April 20 St. Agnes of Monte Pulciano, Virgin and Abbess

Catholic Exchange – St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Catholic News Agency – St. Agnes of Montepulciano Feast day: Apr 20

Catholic Online – St. Agnes of Montepulciano

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Agnes of Montepulciano by Kathleen I Rabenstein

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville) – St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Independent Catholic News – St Agnes of Montepulciano

New Advent – Fitzgerald, E. (1907). St. Agnes of Montepulciano. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano’ Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano (1268-1317)

Saint for a Minute – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

uCatholic – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

Video Links

Saint of the Day: April 20th – Saint Agnes of Montepulciano – YouTube (Butler’s Lives of the Saints)

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano | Voice of Saints | April 20 – YouTube (Saints Fans Association)

St Agnes of Montepulciano | Saint of the Day with Fr Lindsay – YouTube (St Francis Xavier – SPRING of FAITH)