Saint of the Day|
An offer she couldn't refuse
St. Agnes of Montepulciano was so popular, they built a convent to bring her home
By Tony Staley
In the world of sports, we are used to athletes jumping to a team
that woos them with more money, a better stadium in which to
perform, a more prominent role on the team or perhaps a better
chance to make more money endorsing products.
And in the work-a-day world, it's perhaps even more common for
people to accept a better offer from a competing company.
But how many of us think of similar things going on in the world
of the saints? No, not that saints are leaving God to work for
the other side, but that someone convinces them to accept a
That's what happened with St. Agnes of Montepulciano. This
Italian saint was born in about 1268 in Gracchiano-Vecchio,
Tuscany. When she was only nine, Agnes entered an austere convent
at Montepulciano, where the nuns were popularly called the
Sacchines because of the coarse material used in their habits.
A few years later, she was transferred, along with her novice
mistress, Sr. Margaret, to a new convent at Procena. By the time
Agnes was 15, she was chosen to become the abbess, which required
Pope Nicholas IV to grant a special dispensation.
She proved to be a popular leader and before long, because of her
reputation for sanctity and austerity, several postulants joined
the community. For example, for 15 years, she lived on bread and
water and slept on the ground, using a rock as a pillow.
Agnes was known for having visions - it's said that she received
Communion from an angel and that she held the infant Jesus in her
arms. She also could levitate and perform miracles.
By about 1300, the residents of Montepulciano decided they wanted
Agnes back because of her fame. So they did the equivalent of
what a city might do today to attract a sports team - they built
a new convent on the site of several houses of ill repute and
made her the prioress. The convent flourished under her rule.
She died at age 49 in 1317 at the Montepulciano convent, which
she had placed under the Dominican rule. She was canonized in
1726. We celebrate her feast on April 20.
As we prepare to enter Holy Week in this Jubilee Year, it would
be good to consider who we are yelling our "Hosannas" at - the
Son of God or a pop idol.
Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Dictionary of Saints and 365 Saints