St. Agatha was born in Sicily in the third century. She probably died in 251 during the Christian persecutions under Decius which lasted from 240 to 251. She was beautiful and of a noble family. She had taken a vow of Purity and consecrated herself to Christ. Quintian, the Governor of Sicily wanted her, but she refused. He sent Agatha to a house of prostitution. Agatha remained firm in her vow. Quintian then reportedly had Agatha imprisoned and brutally tortured. She is supposed to have been healed of her wounds when St. Peter appeared to her in prison, however Quintian’s tortures continued and she finally died unshaken in her devotion to Christ.
A year after her death, a city survived the volcanic eruption of Mt. Etna. People became convinced the city had been spared because of St. Agatha’s prayers. Devotion to her spread beyond Sicily and was so fervent in the early Church that St. Agatha’s name came to be included in the first Eucharistic Prayer. She is honored for her courage in suffering and her devotion and commitment to Christ.
St. Agatha is the patron saint of Sicily, nurses, bakers, miners, jewelers, Alpine guides, and those suffering from breast cancer. She is also the protector against earthquakes, volcanoes, fires and thunderstorms.
Since I am a nurse, St. Agatha is one of my favorite saints. The first time I was made aware of this patronage was when I graduated from nursing school in 1975. I received a pin with a prayer to St. Agatha for nurses card. I know that St. Agatha got me through many long nights with very sick patients. Her feast day is February 5.