SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE (1211-1282), virgin, religious and abbess
Today, the Church honors Saint Agnes of Prague (also known as Saint Agnes of Bohemia), a woman who left a world of nobility and public renown to become a humble bride of Christ, using her personal wealth to aid in caring for the poor and building up the Body of Christ.
Born in the year 1211 in the city of Prague, Agnes was the daughter of King Ottokar I and Queen Constance of Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic). At an early age, she was sent to the monastery of Trebnitz, Germany where, under the supervision of the Cistercian nuns, she received the education which formed her spiritual upbringing.
She was betrothed to Frederick II, Emperor of Germany; but when the time arrived for the solemnization of their marriage, Agnes decided she did not want to abandon her resolution she had made in consecrating herself to the service of God in the religious life.
The emperor was incensed at her decision, but, upon learning that 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 offense because, in preference to me, she has chosen the King of Heaven.”
Agnes financed the building of a Franciscan hospital on land donated by her brother, King Wenceslaus I. She then established the “Confraternity of the Crusaders of the Red Star” to staff it and its related clinics. She later built a Franciscan friary, and, in the year 1234, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague, called Saint Savior.
In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery as members of the Order of Poor Clares. Sister Clare (later to be known as Saint Clare of Assisi), herself, sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them. She wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation.
Sister Agnes spent the remainder of her life at Saint Savior as a cloistered nun. She was elected abbess of the monastery, and became a model of Christian virtue and religious observance for all – cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. She was also renowned for using her personal wealth in service of the poor.
On March 6 in the year 1282, Sister Agnes died of natural causes. She was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II on November, 12, 1989 in Rome, Italy.
We commemorate her feastday on March 2.
(From saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, sistersofstclare.ie, stfrancisenid.com/saints and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Women ~ religious)
“Lord God, You kept Saint Agnes faithful to Christ’s pattern of poverty and humility. May her prayers help us to live in fidelity to our calling and bring us to the perfection You have shown us in Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”