Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/249

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AGNES
AGNES
213

the buildings, inscriptions, manners, and religious customs of Ravenna in the ninth century. The author shows a strong bias and loses no opportunity of exalting as traditional the independence or "autocephalia" of the church of Ravenna as against the legitimate authority of the Holy See. For his time he is a kind of polemical Gallican. His work bears also traces of personal vanity. In his efforts to be erudite he often falls into unpardonable errors. The diction is barbarous, and the text is faulty and corrupt.

The work of Agnellus was edited by Bacchini (1708), and by Muratori in the second volume of his Scriptores Rerum Italic, (reprinted in P. L., CVI, 459–752). The latest edition is that of Holder-Egger, in Mon. Germ. Hist. Script. Langob., 265 sqq. (Hanover, 1878). See Ebert, Geschichte der Litteratur des Mittelalters, etc. (Leipzig, 1880), II, 374; Balzani, Le Cronache Italiane nel media ero (Milan, 1900), 93–98. For the peculiar autocephalia claimed by the archbishops of Ravenna (akin to that of Milan and Aquileia) see the note of Duchesne in his edition of the Roman Liber Pontificalis (Paris, 1880), I, 348, 349.

Agnes, Saint, Cemetery of. See Catacombs.

Agnes, Saint, of Assisi, younger sister of St. Clare and Abbess of the Poor Ladies, born at Assisi, 1197, or 1198; died 1253. She was the younger daughter of Count Favorino Scifi. Her saintly mother, Blessed Hortulana, belonged to the noble family of the Fiumi, and her cousin Rufino was one of the celebrated "Three Companions" of St. Francis. Agnes's childhood was passed between her father's palace in the city and his castle of Sasso Rosso on Mount Subasio. On 18 March, 1212, her eldest sister Clare, moved by the preaching and example of St. Francis, had left her father's home to follow the way of life taught by the Saint. Sixteen days later Agnes repaired to the monastery of St. Angelo in Panso, where the Benedictine nuns had afforded Clare temporary shelter, and resolved to share her sister's life of poverty and penance. At this step the fury of Count Favorino knew no bounds. He sent his brother Monaldo, with several relatives and some armed followers, to St. Angelo to force Agnes, if persuasion failed, to return home. The conflict which followed is related in detail in the "Chronicles of the Twenty-four Generals." Monaldo, beside himself with rage, drew his sword to strike the young girl, but his arm dropped, withered and useless, by his side; others dragged Agnes out of the monastery by the hair, striking her, and even kicking her repeatedly. Presently St. Clare came to the rescue, and of a sudden Agnes's body became so heavy that the soldiers having tried in vain to carry her off, dropped her, half dead, in a field near the monastery. Overcome by a spiritual power against which physical force availed not, Agnes's relatives were obliged to withdraw and to allow her to remain with St. Clare. St. Francis, who was overjoyed at Agnes's heroic resistance to the entreaties and threats of her pursuers, presently cut off her hair and gave her the habit of Poverty. Soon after, he established the two sisters at St. Damian's, in a small rude dwelling adjoining the humble sanctuary which he had helped to rebuild with his own hands. There several other noble ladies of Assisi joined Clare and Agnes, and thus began the Order of the Poor Ladies of St. Damian's, or Poor Clares, as these Franciscan nuns afterwards came to be called. From the outset of her religious life, Agnes was distinguished for such an eminent degree of virtue that her companions declared she seemed to have discovered a new road to perfection known only to herself. As abbess, she ruled with loving kindness and knew how to make the practice of virtue bright and attractive to her subjects. In 1219, Agnes, despite her youth, was chosen by St. Francis to found and govern a community of the Poor Ladies at Monticelli, near Florence, which in course of time became almost as famous as St. Damian's. A letter written by St. Agnes to Clare after this separation is still extant, touchingly beautiful in its simplicity and affection. Nothing perhaps in Agnes's character is more striking and attractive than her loving fidelity to Clare's ideals and her undying loyalty in upholding the latter in her lifelong and arduous struggle for Seraphic Poverty. Full of zeal for the spread of the Order, Agnes established from Monticelli several monasteries of the Poor Ladies in the north of Italy, including those of Mantua, Venice, and Padua, all of which observed the same fidelity to the teaching of St. Francis and St. Clare. In 1253 Agnes was summoned to St. Damian's during the last illness of St. Clare, and assisted at the latter's triumphant death and funeral. On 16 November of the same year she followed St. Clare to her eternal reward. Her mother Hortulana and her younger sister Beatrice, both of whom had followed Clare and Agnes into the Order, had already passed away. The precious remains of St. Agnes repose near the body of her mother and sisters, in the church of St. Clare at Assisi. God, Who had favoured Agnes with many heavenly manifestations during life, glorified her tomb after death by numerous miracles. Benedict XIV permitted the Order of St. Francis to celebrate her feast. It is kept on 16 November, as a double of the second class.

Wadding, Annates Minorum (2d ed.), ad an. 1212. n. 23 sqq. et 1253 sqq.; Vita Sororis Agnetis in Chronica XXIV Generalium (Quaracchi, 1897), 173–182; De Celano, Vita S. Claræ (ed. Sedulius, Antwerp, 1613), iii; Christofani, Storia della chiesa e chiostro di S. Damiano (Assisi, 1882); Fiege, The Princess of Poverty (Evansville, 1900); Lives of the Saints and Blessed of the Three Orders of St. Francis (Taunton, 1887), IV, 66–70.

Agnes of Bohemia, Blessed, or Agnes of Prague, as she is sometimes called, b. at Prague in the year 1200; d. probably in 1281. She was the daughter of Ottocar, King of Bohemia and Constance of Hungary, a relative of St. Elizabeth. At an early age she was sent to the monastery of Treinitz, where at the hands of the Cistercian religious she received the education that became her rank. She was betrothed to Frederick II, Emperor of Germany; but when the time arrived for the solemnization of the marriage, it was impossible to persuade her to abandon the resolution she had made of consecrating herself to the service of God in the sanctuary of the cloister. The Emperor Frederick was incensed at the unsuccessful issue of his matrimonial venture, but, on learning that St. Agnes had left him to become the spouse of Christ, he is said to have remarked: "If she had left me for a mortal man, I would have taken vengeance with the sword, but I cannot take offence because in preference to me she has chosen the King of Heaven." The servant of God entered the Order of St. Clare in the monastery of St. Saviour at Prague, which she herself had erected. She was elected abbess of the monastery, and became in this office a model of Christian virtue and religious observance for all. God favoured her with the gift of miracles, and she predicted the victory of her brother Wenceslaus over the Duke of Austria. The exact year of her death is not certain; 1281 is the most probable date. Her feast is kept on the second of March.

Leo, Lives of the Saints and Blessed of the Three Orders of St. Francis (Taunton, 1885), 1; Analecta Franciscana (Quaracchi, 1897), II. 56, 61, 95, III. 185, note, 7; Wadding, Annates Minorum, 1234, No. 4–5. For the English translation of her correspondence with St. Clare cf. Fiege, The Princess of Poverty (Evansville, Ind., 1900) 120–136.

Agnes of Montepulciano, Saint., b. in the neighbourhood of Montepulciano in Tuscany about 1268; d. there 1317. At the age of nine years she