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Novena App Health Saints: Saint Agatha, Patron Saint of Breast Cancer

February 4, 2016

    Death: 251

 

Feast Day: February 5

Patron of: Breast Cancer

Quote: “Do not offend Agatha’s nation, because she will avenge all insults”. – Inscription on the façade of the Cathedral of St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily

 

Keywords; breast cancer, burns, pulmonary diseases, bell ringers, bell makers, brass workers, cloth makers, glass workers, wet nurses, nursing mothers, nurses, fires, volcanic eruptions

Symbols: breasts on a dish, palms

 

A national heroine to Sicilians, a great figure in art and one of the few saints mentioned in the Catholic mass, St. Agatha is a fierce and fearless role model for anyone who lives in modern times. A martyr, she is most often invoked by those suffering from diseases of the breast. Her tomb has been a place of miraculous healing since her death. Because of her courage in standing up to the Roman authorities, anyone persecuted by them, Pagans, Jews and Christians all made pilgrimages in her honor. In modern times, her feast day is an important holiday, attracting hundreds of thousands of devotees who process through the streets of Catania.

 

An orphaned daughter of wealthy Christians, Agatha was considered an attractive marriage prospect by  Quintianus, the ruling Roman consul of Sicily. Taking advantage of  the recent Roman decree outlawing Christianity, Quintianus assumed Agatha would renounce her religion and acquiesce to his proposal of marriage. She refused him on both counts, telling him that she had dedicated her virginity to Jesus Christ. Refusing to marry and bear children was considered an act of political defiance in those times. Agatha’s rejection of him so enraged Quintianus that he had Agatha taken to a brothel and forced her to live as a prostitute for thirty days. When she was brought back before him, he ordered her to sacrifice to the Roman gods. She pointed out that no Roman wife would dare live like Venus and no Roman husband could legally do the things that Jupiter was known for, why would she follow such gods? Christ lived what he preached, love and forgiveness; she would follow him instead. Agatha was then tortured by having her breasts slowly rushed and cut off. Thrown back in prison and left to die, an elderly man and a young boy came into her cell. Revealing himself as St. Peter, Agatha was miraculously healed. The next day, Quintianus ordered her to be rolled in broken pottery and hot coals. As this torture was being inflicted, an earthquake leveled Catania. The citizens of that city, declaring that this was God’s vengeance for what was happening to Agatha, chased Quintianus out of town and the terrified consul drowned in the river. Agatha offered her soul up to Christ and died.

 

The year after her death Mount Etna erupted and a lava flow threatened Catania. Agatha’s death shroud was taken out and held aloft which immediately stopped the lava. This same shroud has been used many times over the years to protect the city. Because of her tortures Agatha is the patron of those suffering from breast disease as well as those suffering from burns. Trades that use burning coals also claim her. Bells, which are signals for fire alarms and also resemble breasts are closely identified with this saint. Saint Agatha’s bread, shaped like breasts or bells are a specialty served around the time of her feast.

 

Explanation of symbols:

Mt. Etna in the background: Agatha protects Sicilians against its eruptions. She is the patron and protector of Sicily.

Offering breasts on a dish: Agatha suffered the gruesome torture of having her breasts cut off. Because of her faith, she easily endured this torture and offered it up to God.

Palms: a sign of martyrdom. Christ was showered in palms the Sunday before he was executed.

 

 

Novena to Saint Agatha

 

O Saint Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom.

Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity.

O Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice may receive your intercession.

(Mention your request).

Amen.

Excerpted from the novena app. Find this and 35 other novena saints here.

 

Saint Lucy

December 10, 2013

Saint Lucy

283 – 304

Feast Day: December 13

Patron of: the blind

Keywords: light, clarity, the blind, eye disease, dysentery, epidemics, cutlers, electricians, glaziers, gondoliers, oculists, peasants, writers, vision

Quote:  “Those whose hearts are pure are the temples of the Holy Spirit.”

Symbols: holding her eyes on a dish, martyrs palms, sword, oxen

Willing to give up the comforts of her privileged life in order to obtain a state of enlightenment, Saint Lucy is one of the early virgin martyrs who challenged the authority of the Roman state. Her very name means ‘light’ and as light is direct and clear, shining in the most filthy of environments, we invoke her for clarity of vision in the spiritual as well as the physical realm.

Born in Syracuse, Sicily to a wealthy family of Greek descent, Lucy’s father died when she was very young.  Following the traditions of their society, Lucy had a large dowry and was affianced in an arranged marriage to a pagan nobleman. Lucy was a Christian and believed that she could best be a conduit of the Holy Spirit by remaining a virgin unfettered by husband and children. At this time Christianity was a great threat to the Roman Empire and the emperor Diocletian vowed to stamp it out wherever it arose. Lucy kept her vow a secret as Christians were considered revolutionaries against the state.  Since her mother suffered from constant bleeding from a uterine hemorrhage, Lucy took her to the tomb of Saint Agatha in Catania, a place where many miracles were reported, for a healing. While spending the night there, Lucy dreamt of Saint Agatha who told her, “You have no need to invoke me, for your faith has already cured your mother. One day you will be known as the patron of your own city.”  Upon awakening and finding her mother completely healed, Lucy confessed to her desire to remain a virgin and distribute her dowry among the poor. Impressed by her faith, her mother acquiesced to her daughter’s wishes.

When her fiancé heard of the broken engagement he went to the governor to denounce Lucy as a Christian. In an attempt to change her mind, she was brought before the authorities. When she asked why was it so important that this man need to marry her, she was told because she had the loveliest eyes. Whereupon Lucy ripped out her eyeballs and told the governor to send them to her former fiancé. The next day her eyesight was miraculously restored and Lucy was once again brought before the authorities. An attempt was made to have her taken to a brothel to be repeatedly raped, but a phalanx of soldiers could not move her. A team of oxen was brought in to no avail. Burning pitch was poured on her head, but she stood fast, predicting the downfall of the emperor. This last declaration proved to be too much and Lucy was fatally stabbed in the throat. True to her prophecy Diocletian the emperor abdicated his throne within the year.

It is said that “the longest of nights and shortest of days belong to Saint Lucy.” Because her feast day, December 13 used to be the winter solstice before the change to the Gregorian calendar, Lucy enjoys great patronage in Scandanavia as the saint who brings the coming of the light. Her relics were moved to Venice where she is celebrated in song by gondoliers. In Sicily she is credited with ending an epidemic of children’s deaths in the 14th century, today she is synonymous with Santa Claus, where children receive gifts on her feast day. When there was a famine in her native land during the 16th century, ships laden with raw wheat turned up on her feast day. The starving inhabitants cooked the wheat whole, and today it is customary to cook with raw wheat on her feast day.

Explanation of symbols:

Eyes on a dish: Lucy ripped out her own eyes and offered them to her fiancée when she was told he loved her for her beautiful eyes. She was not in need of her mortal eyes as she was filled with light.

Palms: Symbol of martyrdom.

Novena to Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing as much as the blindness and darkness of evil and sin. By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God’s great honor and glory and the salvation of all men. Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. (Mention your request here.)

Amen

(Excerpted from the app: “Novena:Praying with the Saints” by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua).