Throughout our time here, and especially during Church Week, we’ve talked a lot about various martyrs. Many of the churches here are dedicated to martyrs and many are said to house the bodies of these martyrs. One whose name has come up a lot in class discussion is St. Agnes. The legend of St. Agnes says that she was a beautiful girl who at the age of twelve was approached by a Roman man who asked for her hand in marriage (some say for himself and others for his son). She is said to have denied marriage because she consecrated her body to God and wished to remain a virgin. For this act, she was killed. First, it was said that the authorities condemned her to death by exposure. She was laid out naked in what is now the Piazza Navona (where I have walked many times) in the Stadium of Diocletian. According to legend, her hair miraculously grew and covered her naked body, saving her from this tragic death. So, instead, they beheaded her (other sources say she was stabbed in the throat).
Her body supposedly lies in the church of Santa Agnese Fuori la Mura (Saint Agnes Outside the Wall) and her head in the church of Santa Agnese in Agone. She is seen as the saint of chastity.
For our writing prompt, our professor asked that we write a piece of fiction in the form of a letter. She wanted us to write it as though we were a saint or a martyr or even one of the apostles. I chose to write as Saint Agnes but decided to change her story. I thought it would make a more complex story if she did not choose to die, but instead chose to live. This is her letter of reflection and apology to her mother.
As I’ve said before, I don’t like writing historical fiction and I struggled with this assignment, which is probably why it is such a short piece. This may be my least favorite piece so far. I think there is promise in the message behind the piece, but I think some of that is lost in my lack of interest in historical fiction and subsequent inadequacy to write it.
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