Published 1860

This book is mostly gathered from the works of S. Ambrose, S. Augustin, S. Maximus of Tours, and from other of the Fathers. The writer's endeavor has been, if without success, yet not without toil, to throw the narrative into English language, in such a way as might win English boys and girls, young men and maidens, to read it, or hear it read, for themselves; that so, through Divine Grace, some of them also, hearing of St. Agnes, whose Charity and heroic Passion are here set forth, might with her desire to belong only to the Virgin Lamb, and to follow the Virgin life: or, if that be unhappily for ever past, that then they would resolve to follow Him, as far as they can, and by prayers and tears, or other influence, endeavor to have represented in others, what in themselves they now have not.

No more wonderful example of this life has ever been witnessed in the Catholic Church, than that of the Virginity and Martyrdom of the holy Agnes, just 13 years of age. For Virginity is worthy of praise not so much because it is found in martyrs, as because it is of that power and grace that it makes martyrs.

Blessed St. Agnes, then, whose passion and triumph these pages are to set forth, was, what she is justly called, a Virgin. So that her birthday not only calls on all who can, to come up to her worthiness by striving after a like integrity; but also, since it is a martyr's birthday, it claims from the priest the offering to God of the sacrifice of thanksgiving. She is honored to be named within the Canon of the Mass.

It is no marvel if, on the birthday of St. Agnes, and at the deeds that are told of her, strong men stand astonished. But then, again, in hearing of them the youngest boys will cease to be faint-hearted: married women will be amazed: and (more blessed still) maidens may learn to aim at her excellence. It is a Holy-day, on which all should exult and rejoice, and sing hymns and psalms to God, young men and maidens, old men and children, praising His holy Name for the marvelous grace bestowed on His handmaiden. And then no one can be more praised than she who is praised by all.

Download the book, "A History of the Holy Virginity and
Blessed Martyrdom of St. Agnes"