Saturday, 5 February 2011


St Agatha - Patron of Breasts and Bellringers

Now I am fairly sure that this part of my story is apocryphal but it is worth the telling.
As is well known, part of St Agatha the Martyr's sufferings included the abhorrent act of cutting off of her breasts. As a consequence, so the story goes, her symbol, in earlier times, became a pair of excised breasts. Imagine that, if you can, two breasts depicted on a platter.
With the crudity of medieval line drawings and print and a certain degree of stylisation, the symbol became misinterpreted and, in the time of the Guilds, was adopted by Bellringers as their logo! When, finally the error was pointed out it was all too late. The breast image was in wide usage and so, the Bellringers Guild did a very Catholic thing and adapted, or, rather, adopted, as they chose St Agatha to be their patron saint.

In more recent times, St Agatha has become the patron saint of breast cancer sufferers: I specifically did not mention gender as this is a disease that affects both male and female although, latest figures show that women are far more likely to contract the cancer, 1 in 8 is the horrifying figure.
I particularly like the French version of the name, Agathe but perhaps I am unduly influenced by having an Aunt Agatha!

A somewhat gruesome image of the Saint


  1. I learn something new every day. As a convert to Catholicism I enjoy learning more about our saints. I will keep St. Agatha in mind when I undergo my needle biopsy on Thursday.

  2. Hoy viernes ya puede pasar a buscar el premio regalo de los 500 seguidores de Estoy a tu lado.
    Con ternura

  3. Reminds me of St. Anthony the Abbot's patronage of swine herders. He treated people with skin conditions and because pork fat was commonly used for skin treatment, images of St. Anthony often included a pig. People misinterpreted the image and swine herders adopted him as their patron.

  4. 5thsister - prayers being offered up - St Peregrine comes highly recommended also!

  5. Sor. Cecilia - gracias. I was educated by Dominican nuns. The music on your blog is very beautiful.

  6. I'm going to start praying to St. Agatha for women who may be at risk of breast cancer because of abortion(s). Also, that St. Agatha intercede and that the link between abortion and breast cancer be better known.