The blessed virgin S. Agnes was much wise, and well taught, as S. Ambrose witnesses, and wrote her passion. She was fair in countenance, but much fairer in the Christian faith, she was young of age, in the thirteenth year of her age she lost the death that the world gives, and found life in Jesus Christ, which when she came from school the son of the prefect of Rome, for the emperor, loved her, and when his father and mother knew it, they offered to give much riches with him if he might have her in marriage, and offered to S. Agnes precious gems and jewels, which she refused to take, whereof it happed that the young man was passionately in love with S. Agnes, and came again and took with him more precious and richer adornments, made with all manner of precious stones, and as well by his parents as by himself offered to S. Agnes rich gifts and possessions, and all the delights of the world, and all to the end to have her in marriage. But S. Agnes answered to him in this matter: Go from me you instrument of the devil, nourishing of evils and morsel of death, and depart, and know you that I am prevented and am loved of another lover, which has given to me many better jewels, which has fiancé me by his faith, and is much more noble of lineage than you. He hath clad me with precious stones and with jewels of gold, he has set in my countenance a sign that I receive none other espouse but him, and has showed me great treasures which he must give me if I abide with him.
I will have none other spouse but Him, I will seek none other. In no manner may I leave Him, with Him am I firm and fastened in love, which is more noble and fairer than any other, Whose love is much sweet and gracious, of Whom the chamber is now prepared to receive me where the virgins sing merrily. I am now embraced by Him of Whom the mother is a virgin, and His Father knew never woman, to Whom the angels serve. The sun and the moon marvel at His beauty, Whose works never fail, Whose riches never diminish, by Whose aroma dead men rise again to life, by Whose touch the sick men be comforted, Whose love is chastity. To Him I have given my faith, to Him I have commanded my heart; when I love Him then I am chaste, and when I touch Him then I am pure and clean, and when I take Him then I am a virgin, this is the love of my God.
When the young man had heard all this he was despaired, as he that was taken in blind love, and was over sore tormented, in so much that he lay down sick in his bed for the great sorrow that he had. Then came the physicians and soon knew his malady, and said to his father that he suffers of carnal love that he had to some woman. Then the father enquired and knew that it was this woman, and did speak to S. Agnes for his son, and said to her how his son is suffering for her love. S. Agnes answered that it is not wise that she would break the faith of her first husband. Upon that, the father de- manded who was her first husband, of whom she is much in love, and in his power she so much trusted. Then one of her servants said she was Christian, and that she was so enchanted that she said Jesus Christ was her espouse. And when the father heard that she was Christian he was much glad so as to exercise power on her, for then the Christian people were in the will of the lord, and if they would not deny their God and their belief all their goods should be confiscated. Therefore the father made S. Agnes to come in justice and he examined her sweetly, and by much cruelly by menaces.
S. Agnes, well comforted, said to him: Do what you want, for my purpose you shall never change. And when she saw him terribly angry she scorned him. And the father said to her, being all angry: choose one of two things, either do sacrifice to our gods with the virgins of the goddess Vesta, or go to the brothel to be abandoned to all that come, to the great shame and blame of all your lineage. S. Agnes answered: If you knew who is my God you would not say to me such words, but for as much as I know the virtue of my God, I set nothing by your menaces, for I have his angel which is keeper of my body. Then the judge being enraged ordered to take off her clothes, and all naked to be led to the brothel. And thus S. Agnes that refused to do sacrifice to the idols, was delivered naked to go to the brothel, but immediately as she was unclothed God gave to her such grace that the hairs of her head became so long that they covered all her body to her feet, so that her body was not seen. And when S. Agnes entered into the brothel she found the angel of God ready to defend her, with a bright clearness in such a way that no man might see her would dare come to her. Then she made of the brothel her oratory, and in making her prayers to God she saw before her a white vesture, and immediately she clothed herself and said: I thank you Jesus Christ who counts me among your virgins and hast sent me this vesture. All they that entered made honour and reverence to the great clearness that they saw about S. Agnes, and came out more devout and more clean than they entered. At last came the son of the prefect with a great company for to accomplish his foul desires and lusts. And when he saw his fellows come out ashamed, he mocked them and called them cowards. And then he, all infuriated, entered to accomplish his evil will. And when he came to the clearness, he advanced to take the virgin, and immediately the devil took him by the throat and strangled him that he fell down dead.
Then the bishops of the idols made a great dispute among the people, so that they all cried: Take away this sorceress and witch that turned men’s minds. When the prefect saw these marvels and set in his place a lieutenant named Aspasius to satisfy the people, and because he could not deliver her he departed sorrowfully. This Aspasius made a great fire among all the people and cast S. Agnes therein. as soon as this was done the flame departed in two parts, and burnt them that made the discords, and she remained unburned. The people replied that she had done all by enchantment. Then S. Agnes prayed to God thanking him that she escaped from the risk of lose her virginity, and also from the burning of the flame. And when she had made her prayer the fire lost all its heat, and quenched it. Aspasius, because of the cry of the people, commanded to put a sword in her body, and so she was martyred. Immediately, Christian men and the parents of S. Agnes buried the body, but the heathen defended it, and cast stones at them. She suffered martyrdom in the time of Constantine the great, who began to reign at the year 309 A.D.