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Female Saints Commemorated in the Canon of the Holy

The Canon of the Holy Mass refers to the important segment in the ceremony of the
Holy Eucharist that comes between the Offertory and the Holy Communion. It is the
second part of the Mass of the Faithful, the most sublime aspect in which the faithful
bow their heads, kiss the altar and silently ask God through Christ to accept their
Also called the Great Eucharistic Prayer, this prayer of Consecration mentions the
names of the Apostles, martyrs and saints starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary, then
her husband Saint Joseph, the Apostles and the martyr saints. The term canon
(Greek, kanon) actually means norm or rule. The Church uses canon to denote this
part of the mass as a firm rule on which the celebration and sacrifice of the New
Testament is founded.
The Church has included the Canon or the Eucharistic Prayer in the Holy Mass to
strengthen the priests prayers in asking for blessings and provisions from God through
the invocation of saints and martyrs. The faithful acknowledge the weakness of their
prayers in so much that they hope for the powerful intercession and mediation of these
Catholic saints.
Among the saints and martyrs invoked in the Canon of the Holy Mass are several
women who have long been celebrated in the Catholic Church as holy and venerable:
Saint Anastasia
Saint Anastasia the Healer was a martyr who died in the Christian persecutions under
the Emperor Diocletian. According to stories, Saint Anastasia was either a Sirmian
native or a Roman citizen of patrician rank. She is mostly commemorated as a healer
and exorcist. Saint Anastasia is one of the seven women, excluding the Virgin Mary,
venerated by name in the Canon of the Holy Mass. She has indeed occupied a unique
position among all of the saints, being the martyr of Sirmium and the titular saint of the
old 4th century basilica on the Palatine hill in Rome.
Saint Felicity and Saint Perpetua
The Saints Felicity (Felicitas) and Perpetua were born noble and were well educated in
their lifetime. The two youthful heroines were arrested at Carthage during the Christian
persecutions under Severus. When they were imprisoned, Saint Perpetua had just given
birth and Saint Felicity was in the eighth month of her pregnancy. Both of them united
their tears and prayers, fearing they might lose the opportunity to become martyrs. God

heard their prayers and when the judge told them their sentence, they were overjoyed.
They traveled happily as they were being condemned to the wild beasts for they
believed that at such price, they would be able to enter Heaven. Saint Perpetua and
Saint Felicity were exposed to the rage of a fierce cow in the amphitheatre and
eventually killed by the sword.
Saint Agatha
Saint Agatha was a holy virgin known for her wealth and nobility as well as her virtue
and beauty. When she was younger, she already consecrated her virginity and chose
Christ for her spouse, resisting any man who made advances.
A high-ranking official named Quintian thought he could force her to marry him. He
arrested Saint Agatha first knowing that she was a Christian. He expected Saint Agatha
to give in once she was faced with torture, however she became stronger, affirming her
belief in God. In her unwavering faith, Saint Agatha announced that her freedom came
from Jesus. As they continued torturing her, Saint Agatha professed her faith. She was
given all the care she needed from God through a vision of Saint Peter, but succumbed
to death after saying her final prayer.
Saint Lucy
Like Saint Agatha, Saint Lucy came from a noble lineage and vowed eternal chastity.
She became a martyr in 304 during the great persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Saint
Agatha appeared to Saint Lucy when she made a pilgrimage to her tomb, asking her to
help restore the health of her mother. From that time on, Lucy sold her property and
gave the proceeds to the sick and the poor.
Saint Lucy appeared before the tribunal of a heathen judge who accused her of being
Christian. She was ordered to make a sacrifice to the pagan gods, to which she replied,
It is a pure and undefiled worship of God to console and support widows and orphans
in their tribulation after offering my possessions, I shall gladly offer myself in sacrifice
as well. Initial attempts to torture and kill her were in vain. Death finally overtook her
when a sword was thrust through her neck, but she continued to live until she received
the Holy Viaticum from a priest and announced around that peace was drawing near.
St. Agnes
Saint Agnes was born from a noble and wealthy family. Admired because of her grace,
purity and innocence, she became the patron saint of girls, virgins, rape victims and
chastity. At the young age of thirteen, she became renowned both as a virgin and as a
Saint Agnes was condemned to death because of her refusal to marry the son of the
Prefect Sempronius. Because Roman law did not allow the execution of virgins,

Sempronius had to have Saint Agnes stripped naked and brought to a brothel to be
raped. It was said that all the men who tried to rape her became blind. Another story
recounted Saint Agnes growing an abundance of hair that covered her entire body.
Afterwards, she was stabbed, or as in some texts, beheaded. It was said that her blood
poured to the amphitheater, other Christians soaking up her blood with cloths.
Saint Cecilia
Saint Cecilia is popularly known as the patron saint of musicians because it was said
that as she was dying, she sang to God. Saint Cecilia was of Roman nobility and
together with her husband Valerian, brother Tiburtius and the soldier Maximus, she
suffered martyrdom during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus. The venerable
saint is commemorated in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman
Catholic Churches on the 22nd of November.
Legend has it that Saint Cecilia was beheaded while she was praising God, singing to
Him as she was dying. Saint Cecilia is often depicted in art as playing a musical
instrument. Aside from being mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, Saint Cecilias feast
day is widely celebrated, during which musical concerts and festivals are held.