Agnes of Montepulciano


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Dominican nun. Born at Gracchiano-Vecchio of a wealthy family, she joined the Sisters of the Sack (so called because of their rough clothes) at Montepulciano (Tuscany) in her youth. When a new foundation was made at Proceno, Agnes was sent as housekeeper; later she was bursar and superior. Meanwhile her austerities and her visions of Christ, Mary, and the angels had become known, so the citizens of Montepulciano invited her to return.

This she did and founded a convent there in premises formerly used as brothels. Meanwhile she had become convinced that, to attain permanence, the community should be aggregated to an established Order. Her choice was the Dominicans, and she was established as prioress in 1306, while the Order provided chaplains and direction. The convent grew and prospered under her rule, which lasted until her death. Prophecies and cures were attributed to her, while in character she was outstanding for ardour and simplicity. After a long and painful illness, she died at the age of forty-nine. Her tomb and her incorrupt body were much visited by pilgrims, including the Emperor Charles IV and Catherine of Siena, with whom she is often associated in Italian art. She is also represented as patroness of her town, of which she holds a model in her hand, by a Sienese painter at Montepulciano, while Tiepolo presents her as one of the saints surrounding the Madonna in the Jesuit church at Venice. Feast: 20 April.

Life by Raymond of Capua (50 years after her death) in AA.SS. April. II (1738), 791–817;Lives by A. Walz (1922) and P. Boitel (1929);B.L.S., iv. 142;Bibl. SS., i. 375–81.

Subjects: Christianity.

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