St Agnes: Strength and Dignity

by | Jan 22, 2024 | Church, Liturgy, Spirituality, Teachings

“She is clothed in strength and dignity. She laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25.

“She is clothed in strength and dignity…”  This proverb is a famous line in the chapter describing the “ideal wife”. The chapter includes many beautiful ideas about women. That a worthy wife’s value is far beyond pearls. A wife nurtures children and homes. In addition, she takes what she’s given and makes it even better.

Why is this line set apart?

Any woman can be clothed with strength and dignity. Often times, women often do not have the opportunity to keep ideal homes until we are wives. Also, we aren’t usually in charge of nurturing children until we are mothers. However, NOTHING is required to be clothed with strength and dignity. Any woman, married or not, can put on strength and dignity.

St Agnes’ feast day is January 21st. She is listed in the litany of saints in the Eucharistic Prayer. Little is known about Agnes, but she was thirteen years old when she was martyred in Rome. She is venerated as a Virgin martyr. That’s about all we know.

Why is Agnes so significant?

The seven women in the litany are all Roman virgin martyrs: Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia. They are listed alongside Mary, the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth. These were women who chose death instead of desecrating their bodies.

Roman martyrs, as far as we know, were given a choice. They could renounce God, pray to pagan gods, or submit their bodies to the lust of their captors. Doesn’t it almost sounds like a trivial price to pay? One’s dignity in exchange for survival.

Strength and dignity are not “girl boss” terms to be flippantly throws around. Dignity and strength are virtues of womanhood. Particularly, they are rooted into our design by God Himself. Virginity and motherhood are the highest forms of strength and dignity, in fact, they are the highest form of feminine genius.

We are all called to clothe ourselves with strength and dignity. To defend the gift of our womanhood given to us by God. Before marriage, that means guarding virginity as a precious gift. Even if it means reclaiming our dignity after we’ve been stained with sin or tragedy. After marriage, it means embracing whatever form of motherhood God graces us with. Even if that means accepting the cross of infertility. When we clothe ourselves in God-graced femininity, we can laugh without fear of the future.

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Michelle C. Martin

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University with her husband, Joshua, in May 2021 and married him in June on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has a degree in Communication Studies and has loved growing in knowledge of healthy and authentic relationships during her time in college and adulthood. Michelle and Joshua currently reside in Lubbock, TX where he works as an architect and she loves life as a stay-at-home wife and mother to their children, Peter and Cecilia.

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