Today is the feast day of Saint Agnes.
According to my Saint-A-Day book, Agnes was a "famously pulchritudinous virgin martyr". Did you know that pulchitrudinous means exhibiting great physical beauty? What an ugly word. Kind of like it ought to mean the opposite. I feel the same way about the word 'copious'. For some reason, copious seems like a word better suited to describe something stashed away, or doled out miserly. Not a word that means bountiful. Well, when I'm in charge I'll make some of these important changes. But for now, lets talk saints, shall we?
Agnes is the patron saint of girl scouts and virgins. Redundant? These days, who knows.
Take it away, Saint-A-Day:
In 304, when she was thirteen years old, this beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde Roman maiden rejected all her ardent suitors, among them Eutropis, the governor's son. Spurning his costly love gifts, she declared, "I have chosen a spouse who cannot be seen with mortal eyes, whose mouth drips with milk and honey." (All dialogue according to one official biographer, Saint Augustine, who wasn't there.) Understandably jealous her pagan swain waxed ill for love, and his father summoned the maiden, offering honors and estates if she would marry his son--and threatening her if she did not. Agnes was unmoved when exposed to the cruel instruments of torture. "You will learn that my God is a God of purity. He will bring your wicked purpose to naught," said she. The governor ordered that she be stripped naked and paraded through the streets to a den of iniquity. Miraculously, her golden hair suddenly grew in great profusion and entirely concealed her shame. At the brothel the only customer bold enough to approach her lewdly was Eutropis himself--whereupon he was immediately struck blind or dead (accounts differ). Agnes out of kindness, cured (or resurrected) him, whereupon she was charged with witchcraft and sentenced to the stake. Saint Ambrose (who wasn't there either) assures us that Agnes "went to the place of execution more cheerfully than others go to their weddings." Legend has it that unmarried girls dream of their future husbands on the eve of her Feast Day, but only if they have fasted for twenty-four hours and eaten an egg with salt just before bedtime. Because the name Agnes sounds like agnus--which is Latin for lamb--on her Feast Day the Pope with great ceremony used to bless a pair of sheep and send their wool to his archbishops.
If Agnes were alive today she would not be a saint, she would be the spokesmodel for Bluefly.com