Did you know that the Basilica has a chapel dedicated to St. Agnes in the Crypt Church? Celebrated on January 21, she is a martyr from the early Church in Rome. Though she was only a young girl when she faced death, her devotion to her faith is an example to all of us as we face adversity. Today, we invite you to learn more about her story and virtually explore where she is honored in the Basilica.
The Life of St. Agnes
St. Agnes was a Christian living in Rome at the end of the third century when most religions were still under persecution, and it was a crime to be a Christian. The governor’s son wanted to marry Agnes, but she felt called to a different life. She refused to marry him, instead wishing to pledge herself to Christ and take a vow of virginity. Embarrassed, the governor’s son accused her of being a Christian and ordered that she be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel. Tradition holds that, as she was being dragged through the streets, her hair grew miraculously to cover her nakedness, and an angel prevented her tormentors from bringing her into the brothel. However, though she was spared the disgrace of the brothel, she was later beheaded.
About the St. Agnes Chapel at the Basilica
In the Basilica, the mosaic of St. Agnes depicts her holding a lamb, which is a symbol of both her purity and her status as a bride of Christ. The frontal of the altar displays another lamb, along with a dove bearing Agnes’s soul to heaven. The Latin text of the mosaic translates “Behold now I come to you whom I have loved, whom I have sought, and for whom I have always longed.”
Tour the Chapel
Interested in seeing where St. Agnes is honored in the Basilica? Explore the chapel in immersive 360° below!
Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling