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21 January 2013


Her life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Animemur ad agonem,
Recolentes passionem
Gloriose virginis:
Contrectantes sacrum florem,
Respiremus ad odorem
Resperse dulcedinis.

Pulchra, prudens et illustris,
Jam duobus Agnes lustris
Addebat triennium:
Proles amat hanc prefecti,
Sed ad ejus virgo flecti
Respuit arbitrium,

Mira vis fidei,
Mira virginitas,
Mira virginei
Cordis integritas!
Sic Dei Filius,
Nutu mirabili,
Se mirabilius
Prodit in fragili.

Languet amans, cubat lecto,
Languor notus fit prefecto;
Maturat remedia.
Offert multa, spondet plura,
Periturus peritura,
Sed vilescunt omnia.

Nudam prostituit
Preses flagitiis,
Quam Christus induit
Comarum fimbriis
Stolaque celesti.
Celestis nuntius
Assistit propius;
Cella libidinis
Fit locus luminis:
Turbantur incesti.

Cecus amans indignatur,
Et irrumpens prefocatur
A maligno spiritu.
Luget pater, lugent cuncti,
Roma flevit pro defuncti
Juvenis interitu.

Suscitatur ab Agnete;
Turba fremit indiscrete;
Rogum parant virgini:
Rogus ardens reos urit,
In furentes flamma furit,
Dans honorem numini.

Grates agens Salvatori,
Guttur offert hec lictori;
Nec ad horam timet mori,
Puritatis conscia.
Agnes, Agni salutaris
Stans ad dextram gloriaris,
Et parentes consolaris,
Invitans ad gaudia.

Ne te flerent ut defunctam,
Jam celesti Sponso junctam,
His, sub agni forma, suam
Revelavit atque tuam
Virginalem gloriam;
Nos ab Agno salutari
Non permitte separari,
Cui te totam consecrasti,
Cujus ope tu curasti
Nobilem Constantiam.

Vas electum, vas honoris,
Incorrupti flos odoris,
Angelorum grata choris,
Honestatis et pudoris
Forman prebes seculo.
Palma fruens triumphali,
Flore vernans virginali,
Nos indignos speciali,
Fac sanctorum generali
Vel subscribi titulo. Amen.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

As we tell once more the fashion
Of this glorious virgin's passion,
Be we kindled to the fight:
As we touch the sacred flower,
Let us breathe the scents that shower
From its sweetness' full delight!

Beautiful and wise and noble,
Agnes now had to the double
Of five years an added three:
Much the prefect's first-born loves her,
But to maiden scorn he moves her.
Not submission to his plea.

Wonderful power of faith,
Wondrous virginity,
Wonderful virtue hath
Virgin hearts' constancy!
So did the Son of God
Come of His wondrous will,
And in frail flesh abode;
Which is more wondrous still!

Sick, to bed the lover goeth:
When the cause the prefect knoweth,
Quickly seeks he for a cure:
Much now, vowing more, he proffers, -
Short-lived offerer, short-lived offers! -
But his gifts are all too poor.

Her doth the prefect, bare,
To outrage vile expose,
But a thick fringe of hair
Christ round her body throws,
And a robe heaven-whitened.
One of the angel-race
Beside her takes his place;
The den of lust that night
Becomes the abode of light,
And the lewd are frightened.

Her blind lover, most indignant,
Rushes in, and a malignant
Spirit robs him of life-breath.
Weeps his father, all are crying,
Rome bewailed a young man dying
By so terrible a death.

He is raised by Agnes' pleading;
But the crowd, - blind rage misleading! -
For the maid prepare the stake:
Its bright blaze the guilty burneth;
'Gainst the fierce the fierce flame turneth
For the Most High's honour's sake.

To the Saviour thanks she proffers,
To the lictor her throat offers;
Neither fears she when she suffers,
Conscious of her purity.
Agnes! thou, thy crown receiving,
At the saving Lamb's side living,
Comfort to thy parents giving,
Bidd'st them mount to joys on high!

Lest they mourn, as dead and buried.
One, to Spouse divine now married,
In a lamb's shape, Christ the story
Of His own and of thy glory
Set before them, spotless maid!
Suffer not our separation
From that Lamb, our One salvation;
Unto Whom devoted wholly,
Thou didst noble Constance throughly
Heal of sickness by His aid.

Vessel, glorious and elected!
Flower, with scent by naught affected!
By the angelic choirs respected!
Thou art as the type erected
Of a maiden's spotless fame.
Off the palm of victory bearing,
Still thy virgin blossom wearing,
Grant we may, unfit appearing
For a special title, share in,
With the saints, their general name! Amen.

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