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Feast of St. Agnes: January 21

St. Agnes of Rome was martyred in AD 303. The story of her martyrdom is shrouded in legends that have been handed down by historians of the fifth and sixth century, but all stories agree that St. Agnes was a virgin and a martyr. Having chosen Christ as her only love, she was led like a lamb to the slaughter, willing to die rather than to lose her virginity or deny her faith.

More than 17 centuries later, 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.

It’s whom we love—Christ alive in our neighbors in need—and how we hope to show it.

“To Christ alone I am associated in heaven,
whom on earth I have loved
with all devotedness.”

Words attributed to St. Agnes, taken from accounts of early Christian writers—Saints Ambrose, Damasus, Jerome and others

Why Our Patroness

During a visit to Rome in the 1850s, Father Caspar Rehrl stopped at the Tomb of St. Agnes and prayed, “Show me the way.” He was granted a vision of a new society, founded in America, with St. Agnes as the patroness. His was approved by Pope Pius IX, and, on his return to America, he bought land at Barton, Wisconsin. By December 1857, a church was built there. About one year later, on the Feast of St. Clare 1858, the Congregation of St. Agnes was born in Barton.