Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

August 18
  

Saint Agapetus

Martyr
(† 274)

Saint Agapetus suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome. He had dared to reproach for his cruelty towards the Christians, one of the Emperor Aurelian's favorites, who immediately gave the order to arrest him. He was flogged with leaden-tipped straps and scorpions; his constancy and his prayer under torture converted five hundred pagans, who declared themselves Christians and were executed at once. The young martyr was thrown into a horrible prison where a celestial vision fortified him. After a second questioning, he was again scourged, then laid upon the rack that his body might be torn with iron nails.

He still lived and was again ordered to sacrifice to Apollo; his refusals won for him still more torments: live coals on his head, suspension by his feet, boiling water poured over him. His courage was superhuman, his answers admirable. Wild beasts in the arena spared him and lay down at his feet, and still more pagans were converted. He was finally beheaded, and his body buried by the Christians, in a field where they found a new tomb prepared as though for his sepulchre. Two churches in Palestrina and others in various places are dedicated to God under his name.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 10