February 10, 2010

Fourth Century Icon of St. Agnes in Rome

St. Agnes, whose name is inscribed above her head, stands frontally in the orans position between two columns on which doves are perched.

This beautiful fourth century icon of St. Agnes is found and still intact in the Catacomb of Pamphilus in Rome on the Ancient Salarian Way. It is a gold-glass medallion which was likely embedded in the wall of the catacomb as an offering for the dead.

According to tradition, Saint Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility born c. 291 and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve or thirteen during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, on January 21, 304 or 305.

The image above was made within a generation or two after her martyrdom.