Saint Agnes of Monte Pulciano


Saint Agnes of Monte Pulciano

Saint Agnes was born in Italy in 1274, a gentle future glory of the Order of Saint Dominic. Her father was an eminent Christian who dwelt in the village of Gracciano Vecchio, near the Lake of Perugia in central Italy.

On the very day of her birth a first miracle announced to those present that this was a predestined child: mysterious burning torches appeared, shining brilliantly near her crib.

Already at the age of four the little girl used to retire in solitude to pray to Jesus, her love.

When she was nine she asked her parents to enter a monastery; they opposed this wish, not certain of the will of God. But after she had prayed fervently that opinions might be changed, she was allowed to join the Sisters of Monte Pulciano who were living under the Rule of Saint Augustine.

They soon venerated her as resembling an angel of paradise.

When she reached the age of fourteen, to test her they assigned to her the prosaic duties of stewardess of her monastery, an office in which she would have to provide for the material needs of the Sisters and keep accounts; they wanted to see whether these occupations would detach her from her spirit of uninterrupted prayer.

They were edified to see her carry out her duties cheerfully, in perfect obedience, without murmuring in any way and without her piety being in any way altered.

Whenever a Sister needed any service, the response of Saint Agnes was always characterized by grace and charity.

Saint Agnes already had the reputation of sanctity; a number of persons had seen her raised in the air nearly two feet above ground.

And when the residents of Procena, a neighboring town, decided to build a monastery for their daughters, they came to ask for her as its first Superior.

She was at that time fifteen years old, and her humility was affrighted by this request.

But she was commanded by the Sovereign Pontiff to accept the office as proposed.

This experience would prepare her for a later important work, that of founding a large monastery in honor of the Mother of God at Monte Pulciano; the Blessed Virgin had already appeared to her and told her that it would be founded on faith in the Most High and undivided Trinity.

As the years passed, it occurred sometimes that where she knelt in prayer, flowers sprang up — violets, lilies and roses.

One year, during the night of the Assumption, the Mother of the Saviour appeared to her again and placed the Infant Jesus in her arms.

Saint Agnes succeeded in founding the foretold monastery, in which she presided over twenty cloistered Dominican Sisters; an Angel had told her to establish it under the Rule of Saint Dominic.

During her last illness, she was sent to bathe in curative waters; during her journey there she brought back to life a child who had drowned.

Her health did not improve, but a spring welled up nearby which cured others and was named the water of Saint Agnes.

Saint Agnes returned to her monastery and prepared for death.

She died at the age of 43 on April 20, 1317.

Miracles occurred at her tomb, as they had during her lifetime, and she was beatified in 1534, canonized in 1726.

Her first biographer was Raymond of Capua, the confessor of Saint Catherine of Siena.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4)



Commentary on the reading of the day provided by :

Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890),

Cardinal, founder of the Oratory in England, theologian
PPS IV, 17 “Christ Manifested in Remembrance”

“Rabbi, when did you get here?…- This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent”

Christ refused to bear witness to Himself, or say what He was, or whence he came.

Thus He was among them “as he that serveth.” (Lk 22,27).

Apparently, it was not till after His resurrection, and especially after His ascension, when the Holy Ghost descended, that the Apostles understood who had been with them.

When all was over they knew it, not at the time.

Now here we see, I think, the trace of a general principle, which comes before us again and again both in Scripture and in the world, that God’s Presence is not discerned at the time when it is upon us, but afterwards, when we look back upon what is gone and over…

Events happen to us pleasant or painful; we do not know at the time the meaning of them, we do not see God’s hand in them.

If indeed we have faith, we confess what we do not see, and take all that happens as His; but whether we will accept it in faith or not, certainly there is no other way of accepting it.

We see nothing.

We see not why things come, or whither they tend.

Jacob cried out on one occasion, “All these things are against me;” (Gen. 42,36) certainly so they seemed to be…Yet all these things were working for good.

Or pursue the fortunes of the favourite and holy youth who was the first taken from him; sold by his brethren to strangers, carried into Egypt, tempted by a very perilous temptation, overcoming it but not rewarded, thrown into prison, the iron entering into his soul, waiting there till the Lord should be gracious, and “look down from heaven;” but waiting—why? and how long?

It is said again and again in the sacred narrative, “The Lord was with Joseph;”…Thus though the Lord was with him, apparently all things were against him.

Yet afterwards he saw, what was so mysterious at the time;—”God did send me before you,” he said to his brethren, “to preserve life … It was not you that sent me hither, but God” (Gn 45,7).

Wonderful providence indeed which is so silent, yet so efficacious, so constant, so unerring!

This is what baffles the power of Satan.

He cannot discern the Hand of God in what goes on.



[After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.]

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left.

Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks.

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”” -John 6:22-29.