Dominican Saints 101: Bl. Agnes of Jesus

October 19, 2011

The Lord sometimes likes to keep his chosen souls in obscurity.  Special graces might be accorded to them, but so often their holiness is only known to a few.  Bl. Agnes of Jesus (1602-1634, feast day – Oct. 19) is one such nun. Born in France, she was known for her piety, her deep prayer life, and her devotion both to the Blessed Sacrament and also the Blessed Virgin Mary, even from her childhood. And from the age of 7, she consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin.  St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the great promoter of the consecration to Jesus through Mary, mentions that at the time of her consecration, she used an iron chain to demarcate herself as a slave to Jesus and Mary, and that later in life, the Blessed Mother appeared to her, giving her a golden chain.  He wrote:

One day the Blessed Virgin appeared to Mother Agnes and put a gold chain around her neck to show her how happy she was that Mother Agnes had become the slave of both her and her Son. And St. Cecilia, who accompanied our Lady, said to her, ‘Happy are the faithful slaves of the Queen of Heaven, for they will enjoy true freedom.’ (True Devotion to Mary, para. 170)

At the age of 21, she entered the cloistered Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena at Langeac.  Here, aside from a life that Bl. John Paul II said was “truly blessed,” she offered her prayers and sufferings for a particular priest in France.  The Blessed Mother had appeared to her in a vision and instructed her, “Pray to my Son for the Abbot of Prébrac.”  Just before her death, this priest, Msgr. Jean-Jacques Olier, came to her, and she recognized him because she had previously seen him in a vision.  Still, she died before he was able to establish his soon to be famous seminary at Sainte-Sulpice.  He ended up founding this seminary as well as the Sulpicians, who taught and continue to teach in seminaries, as a response to the Council of Trent’s desire to found seminaries to train clergy. In our own day, as the numbers of seminarians begins to increase, especially within our own Order, Bl. Agnes’s intercession could again bear much fruit.  May she watch over us and intercede for us, especially the Church’s future priests, so that we all might come to have great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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