Agnes of Rome - also known as Saint Agnes, or Saint Ines - was born into Roman nobility c.291, raised in a Christian family, and later suffered martyrdom as a virgin at age of 12 or 13 on 21 January 304, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Agnes is venerated as a saint by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Communion & Lutherans, and is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron saint of chastity, gardeners, girls, engaged couples, rape victims, and virgins. Her feast day is 21 January, which commemorates her martyrdom, while her birthday is celebrated 28 January. Her name "Agnes" resembles the Latin word for "lamb," agnus. However, the name "Agnes" is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective "hagnē" (ἁγνή) meaning "chaste, pure, sacred."
Because of her beauty, many young men sought to marry her, though she always spurned them saying, "Jesus Christ is my only Spouse." Her death directly resulted from her rejection of Procop, son of the wealthy Governor Sempronius.
Procop became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with luxurious gifts and promises, but she insistently refused saying, "I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!"
Greatly angered by her response, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor, who then attempted to bribe Agnes with wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to coerce her by imprisonment & torture - putting her in chains - but her lovely face shone with joy all the more. Next, he sent her to a brothel, but an Angel protected her. Tradition has it that the men who attempted to rape her were struck blind. Finally, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day, and paid no attention to those who begged her to save herself, saying, "I would offend my Spouse if I were to try to please you. He chose me first, and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.
St. Ambrose (c.330 - 4 April 397), a near contemporary of hers, wrote of Agnes, that "She was fearless under the cruel hands of the executioners, she was unmoved by the heavy weight of the creaking chains, offering her whole body to the sword of the raging soldier, as yet ignorant of death, but ready for it. She would not as a bride so hasten to the couch, as being a virgin she joyfully went to the place of punishment with hurrying step, her head not adorned with plaited hair, but with Christ. All wept, she alone was without a tear. She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his right hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared the peril of another, while the maiden feared not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom."