The saint honored today is commemorated in both Western and Eastern churches, and is one of the seven women named in the Canon of the Mass.
Agnes of Rome lived from about 291 till about 304. Her name harkens both to the Latin word for lamb, agnus, and the Greek adjective hagnē, which means pure or chaste. According to legends, she was identified as a Christian by a rejected suitor and taken to a brothel, but any man who tried to rape her was struck blind (or, in some versions, a man was struck dead but resuscitated when she prayed for him. She was condemned to be burned but when the wood would not catch fire, she was beheaded (or stabbed) and thus martyred at the age of about thirteen. This was during the reign of emperor Diocletian, when religious persecutions were notably ruthless.