Saturday, January 14, 2012

14 January, St. Agnes the Virgin-martyr

I am espoused to Him whom the angels serve; sun and moon stand in wonder at His glory.”

Today is venerated in the Eastern calendar, St. Agnes of Rome, virgin and martyr. Her feast in the West is observed on January 21st. This saint who suffered martyrdom at the age of 13 in 304 under the Emperor Diocletian has always been extremely popular. She is one of just seven female martyrs commemorated by name during the Canon of the Mass.

For anyone interested there are many articles concerning her on-line but here are links to just two;
Wikipedia - Agnes of Rome
Catholic Encyclopedia – St. Agnes of Rome  

S. Agnes’ bones, except for her skull which is elsewhere in the city, are preserved in Rome under the High Altar of the Basilica of Saint Agnes outside the wall, S. Agnese fuori le mura
This church is the subject of an excellent book by Margaret Visser, The Geometry of Love: Space, Time, Mystery and Meaning in an Ordinary Church (2000). Well written and highly readable, I   highly recommend it to anyone interested in ecclesiastical architecture.

Ms. Visser writes that she chose to study the intricacies, history and architecture of this church because, "it is a building that feels as if it has been on a very long journey out of the past, has altered and suffered and gathered accretions, and now it is here with us, still bearing its cargo of memories and still carrying out the purpose for which it was built."

I’m not sure I would agree that this beautiful jewel is an “ordinary church” but Ms. Visser’s loving yet exhaustively detailed study of this sacred building makes me wish that she or other like minded writers would take similar pains to record the histories of just a few of the other innumerable buildings like it.  

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