Feast day: January 23
Died 304 Rome
Feast January 23
(also known as Emerentia)
Saint Emerentiana was a Roman martyr, who lived in the 3rd century.
According to Christian hagiography, Emerentiana's mother was the wet nurse and nanny of Saint Agnes, a rich Roman heiress who was martyred after refusing her engagement
due to her Christian religion. Emerentiana herself was a catechumen, still learning about Christianity before being officially baptized. Catholics believe martyrs are "baptized by
blood," and otherwise go to heaven.
A few days after Agnes' death, Emerentiana was caught praying by her tomb; upset upon the death of her best friend and foster sister, she claimed that she was a Christian as
well and belittled the pagans who had killed Agnes, and was stoned to death by the crowd.
Her feast day is 23 January, and she is represented as a young girl who either has stones in her lap and lillies in her hand, or is being stoned to death by a mob. Her tomb is at
the Church of Saint Agnese in Rome.
According to the Roman Martyrology, Saint Emerentiana was the foster sister of Saint Agnes. While she was still a catechumen, Emerentiana was discovered by a pagan mob
praying at the tomb of her recently martyred sister, and was stoned to death. There was, indeed, a real Roman martyr named Emerentiana, whose cultus is very ancient, as
testified by its inclusion in the martyrologies of Jerome, Bede, and others, but not even the date of her death is known. She may have suffered with Saints Victor, Felix, and
Alexander. It is claimed by Alban Butler that her relics were recovered with those of her sister in Christ near the Church of Saint Agnes on the Via Nomentana when it was
being restored during the reign of Pope Paul V. Farmer reports that they were found nearby. Her connection with Saint Agnes ensured her popularity Saint Emerentiana is
pictured as a young maiden with a stone or being stoned by a mob at Saint Agnes's tomb