As in the case of Agnes, another virgin-martyr of the early Church, almost nothing is historically certain about this saint except that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251.
Agatha belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge – - himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God.
Quintian had Agatha tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.
She is claimed as the patroness of both Palermo and Catania. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
When Agatha was arrested, she prayed: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am—you alone. I am your sheep; make me worthy to overcome the devil.” And in prison: “Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit.”