Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Santa Agueda: Patron Saint of Bakers and women breast cake feast day February 5th
It has been almost a whole week since the Saints gave us the opportunity to eat cake without feeling Catholic shame. Saints be praised! No need to search in the cupboard for the secret Toblerone leftover from Christmas, Santa Agueda offers up her breast cakes on 5th February.
Did you say...breast cake?
I did! Like most stories, this one began at the beginning, which happened to be 231AD when Saint Agatha, as she is known in English, was born in Sicily. The story ended for her in 251AD when she died at the ripe age of 20, however in that short time she experienced more than most would in half the time.
Agatha? Like my grandmother?
Yes! It's one of those delightful Christian names that had a resurgence in the 1900's, retirement homes across Britain are wall to wall with Agatha's. Anyway, her story is one of persecution, defiance, courage and cake.
Yes, tell us about this breast cake
I shall, Agatha was the daughter of a rich and noble family and deeply religious. At the age of 15 she dedicated her virginity to God. However, a local low-born Roman prefect named Quintanius had taken a shining to her, as we know Roman's usually get what they want. Agatha on the other hand, was a strong-willed and defiant young lady. Eventually Quintanius became enraged by her persistent rejection and in revenge had her persecuted for being a Christian, she was sent to prison where she was tortured.
Whoa! That guy had zero chill!
Well Roman's didn't often take 'no' for an answer. Amongst the methods of torture she endured were 'rolling in glass' and the cutting off of her breasts.
A horrible history for sure, but she was still defiant, by this time Quintanius was furious as she simply would not renounce her religion or give herself to him, so he had her sentenced to death by burning at the stake.
Couldn't he have just unfriended her on Facebook? What a jerk!
It doesn't end there. On the day of her execution an earthquake shook the city and she was saved from her fate. She left Sicily and took refuge in Malta. However, as devoted to her faith as she was, she decided to return to Sicily and face Quintanius. He had her sent back to prison where she was tortured some more until her martyrdom.
Leave the poor girl alone!
The story of her suffering and defiance obviously had a deep impact on the people and it is this sad, twisted tale that takes on a more pleasant form in the 'shape' of her remembrance. Her breasts became an iconic symbol and there are many examples of art and sculpture depicting her experiences. How could we best commemorate such a bitter story of bravery and persecution?
Well in Spain, I guess it is related to food?
Exactly! This is where the delightful breast cake comes into play. On the 5th February British tourists in Spain hurry passed bakeries, embarrassed and confused as to why the windows are stuffed with delicious breasts. Saint Agatha became the Saint of bakers as she attracts a lot of business, she's also the Saint of breast cancer patients, martyrs, women, wet nurses, bell-founders, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna!
What a girl!
Sorry, had a mouth full of breast. Happy Saint Agatha feast day!