"Do you know how St Agatha died?"
The Martyrdom of St Agatha, painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1520
Public DomainThe Martyrdom of St Agatha, painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1520 - Credit: The Yorck Project

St Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint who was martyred c. 251. A nobleman’s daughter, she dedicated her life and virginity to God and rejected the advances of a Roman suitor. She was persecuted for her faith and given to a brothel owner; tortures she underwent included the cutting off of her breasts, which were healed by St Peter. Her death sentence was to be rolled over a bed of live coals, but when carried out this induced an earthquake and she was instead put in prison, where she died. Her feast day is the 5th February, celebrated in Catania, Sicily, by a three-day festival and procession, and she is the patron saint of martyrs, wet nurses, fire, earthquakes and eruptions of Mount Etna.