The newest name in the family Litany

M and I have said nightly prayers since her infancy. This past year, we began reciting the Rosary daiily on commutes and long drives.  We also pray various versions of litanies, some short and some long, but also a daily or nightly practice.
In light of my recent illness, I have discovered Saint Agatha, a Sicilian martyr tortured to death by a vengeful man she rejected. Due to her most infamous punishments, she is now the patron saint of breast cancer and breast disease.

The two paintings depict the wounds that are often associated, sometimes implicitly, in art featuring St. Agatha. One of the most famous is “Saint Peter Healing Saint Agatha,” a 1614 painting by Giovanni LanFranco that shows a traditional St. Peter tending to Saint Agatha’s wound, a gash over her right breast. The modern painting depicts Agatha’s wound as tradition has often indicated, a complete mastectomy on the right.

While some may argue that these images are distasteful and grim(and I won’t deny that many of the stories of martyrs are violent and dark), our tradition holds that we can seek solace in knowing that other people of our faith endured trials and tribulations.  I personally sought out a patron saint with whom to connect during this experience with breast disease. It was one of my many ways I have faced this challenge with strength and faith. 

Saint Agatha, pray for us.

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