Saint Agnes of Assisi
Saint Agnes of Assisi was a younger daughter of Count Favorino Scifi. Her birth name was probably Caterina; she took the name of Agnes when she became a nun. Her mother, Ortolana, who also would join the Order founded by her daughters, belonged to the noble family of the Fiumi. Their cousin Rufino was one of the original "Three Companions" of Francis of Assisi. Agnes' childhood was passed between her father's palace in the city and his castle of Sasso Rosso on Mount Subasio.
On 18 March 1212, her eldest sister Clare, inspired by the example of St. Francis of Assisi, left their father's home in secret to become a follower of the saint. Sixteen days later, Agnes ran off to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Angelo where St. Francis had brought her sister, resolved to share Clare's life of poverty and penance. Angry at having lost two of his daughters, their father sent his brother Monaldo, and several relations and armed followers to the monastery to force Agnes, if persuasion failed, to return home.
Monaldo drew his sword to strike his niece, but his arm allegedly dropped to his side, withered and useless. The others dragged Agnes out of the monastery by her hair, striking her and kicking her repeatedly. Agnes' body reportedly became so heavy, perhaps due to the help of her sister, that her assailants dropped her in a field nearby. Agnes' relatives, purportedly realizing that something divine protected her, allowed the sisters to remain together. Saint Francis himself cut her hair and gave her the religious habit, in recognition of Agnes' dedication.
Francis later established a cloister for Clare and Agnes at the rural chapel of San Damiano, where they were soon joined by other noble women of the city, and the Order of Poor Ladies, later known as the Poor Clares, began, with Clare as its abbess. In 1221 the Abbess Clare chose her sister to lead a community of Benedictine nuns in the village of Monticelli (now a part of the city of Florence) who wished to embrace the way of life of the Poor Ladies. She later went on to establish other communities of the Order, including those of Mantua, Venice, and Padua. Agnes was said to be very virtuous, and as abbess she ruled with a benevolent kindness, knowing how to make the practice of virtue appealing to her Sisters.
Agnes nursed her sister Clare during the latter's illness, and shortly thereafter died herself, on 16 November 1253. Her remains were interred with those of her sister at the Basilica of St. Clare at Assisi.
Agnes' feast day is the anniversary of her death, 16 November.
St. Teresa's Prayer for All Saints' Day
“O holy souls that now rejoice without fear of losing your joy and are forever absorbed in the praises of my God! Happy indeed your lot! How right that you should employ yourselves ceaselessly in these praises! and how my soul envies you, free as you now are from the affliction caused by the grievous offenses which are in these unhappy days are committed against my God! No longer do you behold all the ingratitude of men and their blindness nor the multitude of souls being carried away by satan.
O, blessed heavenly souls! Help us in our misery and intercede for us with the divine Mercy, so that we may be granted some part of your joy and you may share with us some of that clear knowledge which is now yours.
And You, O my God, make us understand what it is that You give to those who fight manfully through the dream of this miserable life. Help us, O loving souls, to understand what joy it gives you to behold the eternity of your bliss and what delight to possess the certain knowledge that it will never end.
O blessed souls, who knew so well how to profit by the gifts of God, and to purchase with this precious ransom so delectable and enduring a heritage, tell us how you won through Him such an eternal blessing! Assist us, since you are so near the Fountainhead. Draw water for those of us on earth who are perishing with thirst.”
St. Teresa of Avila
Art for this post on Saint Teresa's Prayer for All Saints' Day: Mirror of Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, photographed by David Monniaux, 2005 own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.