“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Though I could not see the face of my Good Friend, I knew he looked upon my lot with kindness. First beaten, then lacerated, and seared with crimson flame, my body was racked with sorrow—not for myself, but for my tormentors. I had suffered crude and humiliating dismemberment at the hands of pagan men. They concluded at nightfall—lest they end the torture prematurely by my death. Reprieve was granted me, but not from mercy.
We arrived at the dungeon cells, where they left my emaciated body in a pool of scarlet. I had not the strength to stand, nor to move. Nonetheless, my Good Friend took me by the hand, and gently raised me from the ground. There I stood aright, gazing in his direction. I sensed him, without actually seeing anything, at my side. I knew him to be present as surely as I knew the presence of the guard who, drunk from wine, had fallen asleep at his post. I knew him to be present as surely as I had known the presence of the Roman Prefect at the tribunal. It was that Prefect who endeavored to marry me on account of lust and insatiable greed, and who, after I refused his advances, had me tortured as if I were an adversary of the State.
My Good Friend first came to me during my brief stay with Aphrodisia, an impious woman and dutiful instrument of the Prefect’s bidding. That wicked man sent me to reside with her—a malevolent ploy intended at corrupting my innocence and devotion to the Faith. Perversion was the immediate objective; apostasy, the final goal. My Good Friend has since remained at my side, guiding me each day and night. I believe that my Father in Heaven has sent this angel to guard me in these, my last days.
After lifting me from the floor, my Good Friend placed an invisible hand, as it were, upon my shoulder, steadying my ailing frame with a touch which felt no less real than that of a visible person. Suddenly, the dungeon was filled with a brilliant light, and myriads upon myriads of angels could be heard singing the magnificent hymn: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. And the glorious apostle, St. Peter—whom I recognized by the imposing keys which he held in his left hand—appeared before me. His face had such radiance and beauty that I found myself taken up, drawing closer and closer to him, who stood before the light. He was not its source, but a participant in its splendor. When I came within arm’s reach of the saint, he extended his right hand and placed it upon my wounds. He then blessed me and returned to the light, which gradually abated and left me alone, once again, with my Good Friend.
Only at the invitation of my Good Friend did I dare look upon my wounds. What had once bled a glistening red, now bore no blemish. My wounds had been healed.
Immediately, I knelt down and made the Sign of the Cross. My beloved Jesus, I swear to Thee, my Lord, that I will bear even more for your sake and the glory of your name. At this, my Good Friend extended his wings, in a manner of speaking, and disappeared.
In A.D. 251, under the persecution of Decius, the fifteen-year-old Agatha died after four successive visits before the tribunal. According to hagiographical accounts of both the Christian West and East, she remained steadfast under torture, dying in prison as a virgin and martyr. In iconography and art, she is often depicted with her Guardian Angel, who—as tradition attests—visited her in prison.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
Image: Icon of Guardian Angel