St. Agnes of Assisi

Feastday: November 16

Death: 1253

Abbess and miracle worker, the younger sister of St. Clare of Assisi. Born in Assisi, Agnes was the youngest daughter of Count Favorino Scifi and Countess Hortulana (now Blessed). On March 18, 1212, Clare renounced her inheritance and family and founded the Poor Clares, the Franciscan cloistered Order. Agnes joined her sixteen days later at the Benedictine cloister of St. Angelo in Panso, where they received their initial training. Her father, Count Favorino, sent armed men to carry Agnes away. She was badly beaten but was not taken back to her father because of the miraculous efforts of Clare. Agnes was accepted by St. Francis and placed in St. Damian’s. She and Clare were soon joined by other noblewomen of Assisi, and there Agnes achieved perfection as a religious at a young age. She was eventually named abbess, and in 1219, was sent by St. Francis to direct the Poor Clares at Monticelli, near Florence. Agnes wrote a letter to Clare, and this surviving document clearly demonstrates her love of poverty and her loyalty to Clare’s ideals. Agnes also established Poor Clares in Mantua, Padua, and Venice. In 1253, she was summoned to Clare’s deathbed and assisted at her funeral. Agnes followed quickly as Clare had predicted, dying three months later, on November 16 of the same year. Her mother, Hortulana, and a younger sister, Beatrice, had already died, and Agnes was buried near them in the Church of St. Clare of Assisi.

More about St. Agnes of Assisi from Wikipedia

Saint Agnes of Assisi, O.S.C., (1197/1198 – 16 November 1253) was the younger sister of Saint Clare of Assisi and one of the first abbesses of the Order of Poor Ladies.

Contents

  • 1 Life
  • 2 See also
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References

Life

She was a younger daughter of Count Favorino Scifi. Her birth name was probably Caterina; she took the name of Agnes when she became a nun.[1] Her mother, Ortolana, who also would join the Order founded by her daughters, belonged to the noble family of the Fiumi. Their cousin Rufino was one of the original “Three Companions” of Francis of Assisi. Agnes’ childhood was passed between her father’s palace in the city and his castle of Sasso Rosso on Mount Subasio.[2]

On 18 March 1212, her eldest sister Clare, inspired by the example of St. Francis of Assisi, left their father’s home in secret to become a follower of the saint. Sixteen days later, Agnes ran off to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Angelo where St. Francis had brought her sister, resolved to share Clare’s life of poverty and penance.[3] Angry at having lost two of his daughters, their father sent his brother Monaldo, and several relations and armed followers to the monastery to force Agnes, if persuasion failed, to return home.

Monaldo drew his sword to strike his niece, but his arm allegedly dropped to his side, withered and useless. The others dragged Agnes out of the monastery by her hair, striking her and kicking her repeatedly. Agnes’ body reportedly became so heavy, perhaps due to the help of her sister, that her assailants dropped her in a field nearby. Agnes’ relatives, purportedly realizing that something divine protected her, allowed the sisters to remain together. Saint Francis himself cut her hair and gave her the religious habit, in recognition of Agnes’ dedication.[2]

Francis later established a cloister for Clare and Agnes at the rural chapel of San Damiano, where they were soon joined by other noble women of the city, and the Order of Poor Ladies, later known as the Poor Clares, began, with Clare as its abbess. In 1221 the Abbess Clare chose her sister to lead a community of Benedictine nuns in the village of Monticelli (now a part of the city of Florence) who wished to embrace the way of life of the Poor Ladies.[3] She later went on to establish other communities of the Order, including those of Mantua, Venice, and Padua. Agnes was said to be very virtuous, and as abbess she ruled with a benevolent kindness, knowing how to make the practice of virtue appealing to her Sisters.

Agnes nursed her sister Clare during the latter’s illness, and shortly thereafter died herself, on 16 November 1253. Her remains were interred with those of her sister at the Basilica of St. Clare at Assisi.[2]

Agnes’ feast day is the anniversary of her death, 16 November.

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