Monday, April 20, 2015

Saint of the Month: St. Agnes of Montepulciano!

Tiepolo painted this trio of Dominican saints with the
Virgin Mary.  St. Agnus of Montepulciano is on the lower
right, St.Rose of Lima is on the left, and St. Catherine
of Siena is in the middle.

St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Not to be confused with: St. Agnes, St. Agnes De, Blessed Agnes Galand, Blessed Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AKA Mother Teresa), St. Agnes of Assisi, St. Agnes of Bohemia, St. Agnes of Jesus, St. Agnes of Langeac, St. Agnes of Poitiers, St. Agnes of Prague, St. Agnes of Rome, or Blessed Josepha Maria of Saint Agnus.

Feast Day: April 20.

Really Existed? Yes.
Timeframe: 1268-1317.
Place: Tuscany.

Credentials: Canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.

Martyrdom: None.

Patron Saint of: No known patronage.
Symbolism: "In art, Saint Agnes is a Dominican abbess (white habit, black mantle) with a lamb, lily, and book. She might also be portrayed (1) gazing at the Cross, a lily at her feet, (2) with the Virgin and Child appearing to her; (3) with the sick healed at her tomb; (4) with Saint Catherine of Siena; or (5) as patroness of Montepulciano, of which she holds a model in her hand."

To be quite honest, I chose St. Agnes of Montepulciano for today because "Montepulciano" is such a delightful placename. I figured she must be a really obscure saint. I was wrong! She's definitely up in the major-minors, mentioned in almost any list of saints with designs on inclusiveness.

There is a fair degree of agreement on the facts of her life, although the conditions under which she returned to her hometown of Montepulciano to become the prioress there are told differently in different places. More sober references tend to shy away from talking about her miracle stories, but there are plenty of them, and the less scholarly sources really pile 'em on.

Here, then, is a summary of St. Angnes' life as told in ten different sources.  Almost everyone agrees that she entered the convent at about age nine, and most sources have her becoming abbess at age 15; it's often claimed that this required special papal dispensation.  At some point, she goes back to Montepulciano to become the Prioress of a new institution there.  Some say that the people of Montepulciano built the priory to lure her back, and others say that she returned in order to found the priory, but this is a modest contradiction and it is easy to imagine a scenario in which both statements would be true.  There is unanimity on the date of her death, and the main difference between accounts really boils down to how many miracles, or folk tales, are thrown into the mix.

The account at the St. Patrick Catholic Church website is snaffled wholesale from Marie Jean Dorcy's St. Dominic's Family, but I paid 'em back in kind by borrowing their text for "symbolism," above.

Happy Feast of St. Agnes of Montepulciano!  Sorry there's no Monday Quiz -- I compiled the chart before realizing that I had picked a Monday saint, and by then there was no turning back.

1 comment:

mrs.5000 said...

A. It would be nice to go to Montepulciano, to conduct further research...

B. All the babies of the region, suddenly talking about a dead woman. This is a good thing? This is not, for instance, construed as demonic possession? And if I went to pay my respects to a corpse, and it raised its foot at me, I would...what? kiss it?