Friday, April 20, 2012
Saints Have a Sense of Humor
April 20 is the feast of St. Agnes of Montepulciano who was a very holy Dominican Nun who was born in 1268. She was known for a very deep prayer life and many miracles even before she died. Usually she is depicted in art with a lamb because the name Agnes, comes from the Latin word for lamb.
At the age of nine she persuaded her parents to let her enter a Franciscan monastery near her home. She was lived a peaceful, happy life there for some years, and then they made her the bursar (treasurer) of the monastery and then Prioress at the age of 15, and finally she was called by the Pope to found a new monastery in Proceno.
Later the people of her home town of Montepulciano called on her to found a new monastery there, and she understood that our Blessed Mother wanted this one to be a Dominican monastery. Here she lived a holy life of contemplation until her death. A shrine was erected in her honor in Orvieto where her body was laid out for the veneration of the Faithful.
There is a legend that the great St. Catherine of Siena was devoted to St. Agnes and on one of her travels went to visit the shrine which held the body of the saint. As Catherine approached to bend over and kiss the foot of St. Agnes, we are told that the saint raised her foot so that Catherine would not have to bend so far. This may or may not have actually happened, but whether or not it did, the story does have something to teach us. It highlights the humility and charity of Agnes at the same time that it foretells the high place that Catherine will also have in heaven. And the two of them, along with any observers, must have smiled at the humorous way that these lessons were taught.