St. Agatha’s Prayer

mosaic of St. Agatha in the crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

(see also St. Agnes’ Prayer)

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has a church in its basement that I much prefer to the glorious, vaulted, cathedral-like main church. It doesn’t hurt that one of the most beautiful masses I ever attended was there.

Around the crypt church’s main altar are a number of side altars, each dedicated to an early Roman martyr who is depicted in a mosaic along with a Latin verse. Many of them, perhaps all, appear in the proper texts of the Liturgy of the Hours on the saint’s feastday. When I first visited a quarter century back or so, I went around and read them and found most of them inspiring.

St. Agatha’s prayer might be a bit provocative in this day and age even among Christians:

Multo præstantior est christiana humiltas
regum opibus et superbia.

Christian humility far excels
the wealth of kingdoms and pride.