St. Agnes was born in 1268 into the noble Segni family in Gracciano, a frazione of Montepulciano, which was then part of the Papal States. At the age of nine, she convinced her parents to allow her to enter the Franciscan monastery of women in the city known as the “Sisters of the Sack”, after the rough religious habit they wore. They lived a simple and contemplative life. She received the permission of the Pope to be accepted into this life at such a young age, which was normally against Church law.
In 1281, the lord of the castle of Proceno, a head of Orvieto, invited the nuns of Montepulciano to send some of their Sisters to Proceno to found a new monastery. Agnes was among the nuns sent to found this new community. At the age of fourteen she was appointed bursar of the community.
In 1288 Agnes, despite her youth at only 20 years of age, was noted for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and deep life of prayer, and was elected as the abbess of the community. There she gained a reputation for performing miracles. A lot of people suffering from mental and physical ailments seemed to be cured by her presence. She was reported to have multiplied loaves of bread, creating many from a few on numerous occasions, recalling the Gospel miracle of the loaves and fishes. She herself, however, suffered severe bouts of illness which lasted long periods at a time.
In 1306, Agnes was recalled to head the monastery in Montepulciano. Agnes reached a high degree of contemplative prayer and is said to have been favored with many visions. After her return, she proceeded to build a church, Santa Maria Novella in Florence, in honour of the Blessed Mother, as she felt She had been commanded to do in a mystical vision several years earlier. She also had a vision of St. Dominic Guzman, under the inspiration of which she led the nuns of her monastery to embrace the Rule of St. Augustine as members of the Dominican Order. She was also frequently called upon to advocate for peace to warring families of the city.
By 1316, Agnes’ health had declined so greatly that her doctor suggested taking the cure at the thermal springs in the neighboring town of Chianciano Terme. The nuns of the community prevailed upon her to take his recommendation. While many of the other bathers reported being cured of their illnesses, Agnes herself received no benefit from the springs. Her health failed to such a degree that she had to be carried back to the monastery on a stretcher.
She is venerated on April 20.
In this life of ours, whether young or old, we all have our special calling. And after it all, when it is time to exit, we got to go. It does not matter if we are good or bad. A journey starts from a point and ends at another. At a very young age, St Agnes knew how she wanted to serve God. And because of her goodness, when it was time to go, her loved ones could not accept it. She was asked to seek for a miracle, the same miracles that happened during her existence but it didn’t work but rather became worse. Do not worry if your dear ones die because it is God Himself who is calling them. May St Agnes help us to lead meaningful lives so that when it is time to go, those we love even though may cry, will accept our demise. Amen
St Agnes, pray for us. Happy feast day to all Agnes.
Book of Saints