Wednesday, January 21, 2009

St. Agnes of Rome

Here's part of what James Kiefer has to say:
Agnes is a Christian martyr who died at Rome around 304 in the persecution of Diocletian: the last and fiercest of the persecutions of Christianity by the Roman emperors. The anniversary of her martyrdom is observed on 21 January. Her name means “pure” in Greek and “lamb” in Latin. She is said to have been only about twelve or thirteen when she died, and the remains preserved in St Agnes' Church in Rome are in agreement with this. It is said that her execution shocked many Romans and helped bring an end to the persecutions.

Some said, “It is contrary to Roman law to put a virgin to death. Our leaders say that it is necessary to kill Christians in order to preserve the old Roman ways: but they are themselves scorning those ways in the process.”

Others said, “Do young girls constitute such a threat to Rome that it is necessary to kill them?”

Others said, “If this religion can enable a twelve-year-old girl to meet death without fear, it is worth checking out.”
This reminds me of the old Zen story about a monk who is confronted by a marauding military man who says, "Don't you know I am the one who can run my sword through you without blinking an eye?"

Whereupon the monk replies, "Don't you know I am the one who can have your sword run through me without blinking an eye?"

One version of the story says that the soldier then bowed low before the monk and said, "Please teach me."

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