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.
Who was this faith-filled and courageous woman? Born Anne Marie Hazotte in 1847 in
During the time of Anne Marie's childhood, important events were occurring in the frontier territory of Wisconsin. A missionary priest from Austria, Father Caspar Rehrl, gathered a group of women he called the Society of St. Agnes and located them in the village of Barton near West Bend. Father Rehrl wanted the Sisters to help him teach faith and academics to pioneer families and their children. One of the members of this Society was a friend of the Hazotte family, and she invited Anne Marie to join. Not one to pass up an adventure or a challenge, she accepted the invitation.
On a cold January day in 1862, fifteen-year-old Anne Marie and Father Rehrl met. His first words to her were: "You are a child of destiny; your name will be Agnes." Those were indeed prophetic words. Just two years later, in 1864, Sister Agnes was elected the first Superior General of the Congregation at the age of 17. Mother Agnes, as she would then be known, would serve in that capacity for the next 40 years until her death on March 6, 1905.