A thought on St Agatha (Feast day 5th February)
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, not least for the sheer number of people taking part. Yet virtually nothing is known of Agatha’s life. The legendary Acts of Agatha relate how she was abused, and forced into a brothel. The account tells of the horrific torture and death she suffered at the hands of brutal men.
For many Christian women Agatha is an inspiration. A strong woman who stood up to her abusers, and her witness was to death. The powerful woman, Agatha, is honoured throughout the history of the church as one who stood up for her God given identity as a woman, and died because of her courageous action.
Today in our world there are many Agathas – women who suffer the forms of violence and cruelty Agatha suffered. Much of the violence and cruelty is hidden in the home. Recalling Agatha’s witness challenges the church of today to speak out against violence and abuse to women and stand in solidarity with all abused women here, in our own community, and throughout the world.