We celebrated the life of St Agatha, third century martyr, today at Church. Fr Ian writes:
Agatha is one of the best loved and most invoked saints. Celebrations at Catania, in Sicily, believed to be her final resting place, are extraordinary to this day for the sheer number of people taking part. Yet virtually nothing is known of Agatha’s life. What is related is the horrific torture and death she suffered at the hands of brutal men. In fact so much do the legendary Acts of St Agatha dwell on the events that one academic, Margaret Miles, has said they verge on ‘religious pornography.’
For many Christian women Agatha is a strong woman who stood up to her abusers, and her witness was to death. She is a powerful woman honoured throughout the history of the church as one who stood up for her God given identity, and died because of her courageous action.
Today in our world there are women who suffer the forms of violence and cruelty Agatha suffered. We need only think of the example of the female student, raped and murdered in India over Christmas. There are many Agathas in our world today. Recalling Agatha’s witness challenges the church of today to stand in solidarity with all abused women here, in our own community, and throughout the world.