What’s in a name? For some, maybe a lifetime! Agnes, whose name means “chaste or pure” in Greek and “lamb” in Latin, bears this out. So much of what we know about her is shrouded in legends that have been handed down by historians of the fifth and sixth century, historians who generally agree that the only thing we can know with certainty is that St. Agnes was a virgin and a martyr. Having chosen Christ as her only Love, she, chaste and pure, was led like a lamb to the slaughter, willing to die rather than to lose her virginity or deny her faith.
“To Christ alone I am associated in heaven,
whom on earth I have loved
with all devotedness.”
According to St. Ambrose of Milan, these were the words St. Agnes of Rome spoke on the day in AD 303 when she faced her executioner.
Her crime? Practicing Christianity. Her motive? A personal attachment to Christ so strong that it made her fearless.
More than 17 centuries later, we Sisters of St. Agnes strive to live as our patron saint did—focused on Christ and fearless in going wherever his love may take us. Since our beginnings in 1858 on the Wisconsin frontier, we have served in great cities like Chicago and New York and small communities like Bisbee, Arizona and Amory, Mississippi.
Our sisters currently serve in the fields of education, health care, pastoral ministry, social work, and legal services. But where we go and what we do is not all that important.
It’s whom we love—Christ alive in our neighbors in need—and how we hope to show it.
With all devotedness.
We celebrate St. Agnes' Feast Day on January 21 each year.