Agnes had made a promise to God never to stain her purity. Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse." Procop, the Governor's son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!"
In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. Saint Agnes was twelve years old when she was led to the altar of Minerva at Rome and commanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. In the midst of the idolatrous rites she raised her hands to Christ and made the sign of the life-giving cross. She did not shrink when she was bound hand and foot, though the manacles slipped from her young hands, and the heathens who stood around were moved to tears. When the judge saw that pain had no terrors for her, he inflicted a sentence comporting an insult worse than death: she was condemned to be taken to a house of infamy and her clothes stripped off. “I have an Angel with me,” she said, “and he will guard me. Christ, whom you do not know, surrounds me like a wall which cannot be forced.”
And so it occurred: her hair grew miraculously to such a length that she was entirely covered by it. The place to which she was taken was illuminated by a brilliant, inexplicable light; and there she knelt down to pray. At that site a Church has been built in honor of this young maiden’s victory over impurity. At length the sentence of death by the sword was passed upon her by a subordinate judge. For a moment she stood erect in prayer, then bowed her neck to the sword, rejoicing that the time of her liberation had arrived.
Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome, November 7, 2006