St Agnes of Rome was born to a Christian family of Roman Nobility c291. At a young age, she devoted herself to Jesus and rejected request for marriage. Agnes was condemned and ordered to be dragged naked to a brothel and defiled. Upon praying, she was shielded from sight by her growing hair and men were struck blind at attempts to rape her. Then to be burned on a stake, the flames parted away from her, and she was subsequently beheaded by an officer. Buried beside the Via Nomentana in Rome c304, January 21, her memorial, commemorates her martyrdom.
St Agnes is pictured with a lamb, a reference to her purity. She is the patron saint of young girls, chastity, virgins, engaged couples and rape victims.
Currently, on her feast day, two lambs are blessed by the Pope. They are sheared on Holy Thursday. The wool is woven into the pallium, to given to newly consecrated Archbishops by the Pope.