Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

February 5

Saints celebrating feast days today include, but are not limited to, Saint Agatha (patron saint of nurses, wet nurses, and bell founders, invoked against breast disease, earthquakes, sterility, eruptions of Mount Etna, and fire), Saint Agatha (a different one who died around 1024), Saint Avitus of Vienne, Saint Bertoul or Bertulf, Saint Indractus and Dominica, Saint Vodalus or Voel, Saint Adelaide of Bellich, The Martyrs of Japan, Saint Peter Baptist, and Saint Leo Karasuma.

Saint Agatha's probably fictitious legend (the author of the Saint Report is not editorializing here--this is the opinion of Catholic scholars) was grisly enough to have assured her a permanent Sainthood regardless of the evidence.

In the story, the beautiful and wealthy virgin Agatha, who from earliest childhood had dedicated her life to God, was pursued by a powerful man who threatened to expose her Christianity if she didn't submit.

Of course, this had no effect on Agatha, who was then prosecuted and punished by being sent to a brothel. When her virginity was miraculously maintained in the brothel, Agatha was imprisoned and tortured and mutilated by having her breasts cut off. Again, she was miraculously restored, this time to be brought out and rolled on coals until she finally expired.

In iconography, Saint Agatha is often shown carrying her breasts on a platter, though later artists thought the breasts to be either bells or loaves of bread, leading to the custom of blessing bread on Saint Agatha's feast day and her patronage of bell makers. Other artists depict her with the implements of her torture, i.e. pincers, etc.

Famous birthdays today include Hank Aaron (1934, Mobile), Christopher Guest (1948, NYC), and Laura Linney (1964, NYC).

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© Marilyn Jones 2000-2008