St. Agnes of Montepulciano
St. Agnes of Montepulciano, a holy virgin, was born in 1268 in a little village near Montepulciano, Italy, of the wealthy family of De Segni. Her birth was announced by great lights surrounding the house where she was born, and from her babyhood she was one specially marked out for dedication to God.
As a child, she often spent hours reciting the Our Father and Hail Mary on her knees in some private corner of a chamber. She was such a pious child that when she was nine years old her parents placed her in a Franciscan convent known as Sackins, so called because their habits or scapulars were made of sackcloth. Agnes was a model of all virtues to this austere community. She was also well-known for her gifts of miracles and prophecy.
At the age of fifteen, she entered the Dominican Order at Proceno, in the county of Orvieto, and was appointed abbess by Pope Nicholas IV. She slept on the ground, with a stone under her head, and for fifteen years fasted on bread and water. At the age of thirty, however, because of poor health, her spiritual director instructed her to eat other foods.
St. Agnes was noted for her visions. She held the infant Christ in her arms and received Holy Communion from an angel. She experienced levitations and she performed miracles for the faithful of the region.
The people of Montepulciano wanted so much for her to return to them that they destroyed a house of ill repute and in its place built a convent for Agnes. In her hometown, she established in this house nuns of the order of St. Dominic. Agnes continued to be a great example of piety, humility, and charity to all for the remainder of her life. Through a long illness she showed great patience and grace, offering her sufferings up to God for the redemption of souls.
Agnes died at Monte Pulciano on the 20th of April 1317 at the age of 43. Her body was removed to the Dominicans’ church of Orvieto in 1435, where it remains. She was solemnly canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726.