St. Agatha of Sicily

“Saint Agatha’s themes are health, well-being and protection.  Her symbols are any health related items.  Saint Agatha was a third-century Italian martyr who now presides over matters of health and protects homes from fire damage. Many nurses and healers turn to her for assistance in their work. While this saint was a historical persona (not simply a rewritten Goddess figure), she certainly embodies the healthy guardian energies of the Goddess.

Traditionally, candles are taken from a central location to people’s homes to bring Agatha’s blessings. So, get yourself a special Agatha candle, of any color, and light it in a safe place whenever you feel under the weather.

Take out your first-aid kit or bandages and bless it today, saying:

‘Restore vitality, well-being impart
Saint Agatha, hear the cry of my heart
On these tools of healing your blessing give
That I stay healthy as long as I live.’

When you use any item in the first-aid kit, you can activate the restorative magic by repeating the incantation.

To protect your home from fire, take a sprig of mistletoe left over from the holiday season and put it near your hearth. Invoke Saint Agatha’s protection by saying:

‘Saint Agatha, let my home be protected
Let these fires never be neglected.’

If you don’t have mistletoe, substitute any red-colored stone.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Although we have evidence that Agatha was venerated at least as far back as the sixth century, the only facts we have about her are that she was born in Sicily and died there a martyr.

In the legend of her life, we are told that she belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge – – himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God by praying: ‘Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.’

Legend tells us that Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind. Quintian brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel — a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured and refused her any medical care. When she was tortured again, she died after saying a final prayer: “Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul.”

Because one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she was often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread.

Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also considered the patroness of bellmakers for an unknown reason — though some speculate it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms.

Here is a prayer to her in times in need:

‘Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger. Amen'” [1]

“Saint Agatha is one of the seven women excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.  Saint Agatha is the patron saint of of Ali, Sicily; bellfounders; against breast cancer; bakers; Catania, Sicily; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; Palermo, Sicily; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wetnurses; and Zamarramala, Spain.

Patron saints are chosen as special protectors or guardians over different aspects of life.  Because saints were believed to have led holy lives and were close to God in heaven, people (Catholics especially) feel that their prayers are particularly effective. Often one asks particular saints to pray for them if they feel they have a particular interest in their problem [much as we, as Pagans, would commune with a specific God or Goddess].

For instance one might ask Saint Agatha, patron saint for breast cancer to pray for a friend or relative who is inflicted with this disease. The giving of a St. Agatha medal might help to comfort someone whose patron saint is St. Agatha.” [2]

An annual festival to commemorate the life of Saint Agatha takes place in Catania, Sicily, from February 3 to 5. The festival culminates in a great all-night procession through the city for which hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents turn out.