Author: N / A
Created: second half of the 19th century; Kaunas District, Margininkai Church.
Material / technique: oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 70x45 cm.
St Agnes is a blessed virgin who lived in Rome in the fourth century. She took a vow of chastity at an early age and rejected all suitors and at the age of 12 she died as a martyr. According to the legends, the son of the prefect of the city fell in love with Agnes, but she rejected him too. Accused for being a Christian, she was banished to the city’s brothel. When her suitor wanted to rape her, he fell dead on the ground. St Agnes revived him with a prayer. She was sentenced to be burnt, but the flames did not work, so she was garrotted like a lamb.
St Agnes is depicted with a lamb and a sword. The lamb is the symbol of a pure, chaste, and obedient person and a martyr. White wool reminds of the chaste and peaceful victim. A belt is also a symbol of morality and chastity.
The father weeping started asking St Agnes to cure his son. She said, ‘Not me, but only God can do it.’ However, feeling sorry for the father, she knelt and prayed to Jesus Christ to show his power and to give back life to the young man. Before she finished her prayer, the young man jumped up and exclaimed, ‘Only the God of Catholics is real, and our gods are nothing!’ Hearing these words the crowd replied, ‘Kill this witch, who is killing Romans.’ When Sempronius saw the miracle, he did not want to bother St Agnes, but the second judge Aspasius, did not let her go.
He made a huge fire and threw St Agnes into it, but the fire split in two and did not harm her. The saint then raised her hands to the sky and prayed, ‘My Lord, who did not allow my body to be stained take my soul to the eternal joy, I wish to see you as soon as possible.’ Soon after she ended her prayer, Aspasius ordered one servant to cut her throat and she lost blood and died. The father and mother who took their daughter’s body, buried her near the city of Rome, where a church was built for her and was named after St Agnes. (Motiejus Valančius, „Žyvatai šventųjų“, Raštai 2, 2006, p. 95–99).
Reference: "The Lithuanian art collection of Jaunius Gumbis". Museum and Collector - 6. Vilnius: National Museum of Lithuania, 2016, P. 270.
Exhibition: Exhibition of the collection of Lithuanian art of dr. Jaunius Gumbis "Collected and Preserved", September 2016 - January 2017, National Museum of Lithuania, Vilnius.
Published: "The Lithuanian art collection of Jaunius Gumbis". Museum and Collector - 6. Vilnius: National Museum of Lithuania, 2016, P. 271. Lithuanian Folk Art. Graphics. Painting. Compilor Paulius Galaunė, Vilnius, 1968, P. 212.