Rorate Caeli

A Poem in Honor of St. Agnes

On January 28th, the traditional “second feast” of St. Agnes (see here to learn more about this ancient and beautiful feature of the calendar), we publish the following poem by Christian Browne, author of The Pearl of Great Price: Pius VI and the Sack of Rome (Arouca Press).—PAK

Upon St. Agnes’ Day

When the cruel winds blow across the barren trees
And weather is unfair, 
The saints of Rome remember the girl with golden hair. 

The little lamb unspotted, in flower of her youth
O’er the wolves she held no power but knowledge of the Truth
When to the stake they tied her at Domitian’s place
The wood refused to burn, flames parted from her face.

There her blood was spilled so even the pagans cried
Her head cut down in testament to the Crucified. 
An unknown little child ‘till death inscribed her name
And he who conquered by the sign built in honor of her fame.

Forever hence her name is said, whispered low each morn
In that ever-fixed prayer, where sinners beg to be re-born.

And you, O daughter Agnes!
Like her so young, so fair
Blue the fire in your eyes and flaxen is your hair.

What fate awaits I cannot say, nor did Agnes know
That to the sword the Lord would bid her there to go
When Fortune’s wheel does turn in the tearful vale
May you recall your namesake and her wondrous tale.
O Agnes, Agnes, as the lamb today in silence gives 
Its wool to be a sign that Peter’s power lives 
Bear up in peace whene’er the cross onto you is cast,
And carrying the burden, attain the crown that will forever last.