St Agnes of Bohemia

Nun of the Order of St Clare, (entered heaven this day in 1282)

Dear Betty,

Feeling torn again?  It’s a shame that your family doesn’t understand your desire to give the next two years exclusively to the Church.  This uncle does, though.  Investing these first two years after college in voluntarily serving apostolates that will extend Christ’s Kingdom won’t fill your bank account on earth.  On Judgment Day, though, they will be shown to have done exactly that to your treasury in heaven.  Stay firm.  Remember that this idea has come to you from God himself, as you have many times acknowledged.  He will know how to work everything else out, much as he did with today’s saint.

She was a much sought-after bride.  Being the daughter of the King and Queen of Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic), and Bohemia being a political jewel, she was bartered around in various arranged marriage proposals.  First she was promised to prince Boleslas, who died young, before they could marry.  Then, at age 9, she was betrothed to Prince Henry VII, son of the Emperor Frederick II.  So she moved to the court of the Austrian royal family in Vienna, continuing her education among the nuns who lived nearby.  But Henry changed his mind.  So she went back to the court at Prague.  She didn’t waste her time, but continued to grow in her life of prayer and service to the poor.

The desire to consecrate her virginity and all her love to Christ was already taking shape in her heart.  But then Henry III of England proposed to her.  Soon afterwards, however, he died.  (Something fishy going on here…)

At this point, she was already a young lady, beautiful, gentle, wise, and elegant, adding her own charms to her political sweetness.  So attractive was she, in fact, that the Emperor himself asked for her hand in marriage.  Agnes, however, had by then decided to live only for Christ, and had even asked the Pope to stand as protector of her private vow of virginity.  Most girls don’t say “no” to Emperors, so everyone (the Pope included) was a bit apprehensive about breaking the news to Fred.  To his credit, however, the Emperor responded gallantly, actually a bit flattered to have been turned down by someone who had already been chosen by the King of Heaven.

Free from worldly concerns, she was able to devote herself completely to prayer and serving souls in need (much as you will be doing for the next two years).  She built hospitals, and started a religious order to care for them; she built hospices and poor houses; she even built a Poor Clare convent, which she then entered as a humble religious.  Soon she was made superior of the community, however, and served there the remaining 50 years of her life.  She was beloved by all and, because of her social position, she was able to spread the healing light of Christ throughout Europe merely by her example.

Your suitors may not understand, your parents may not understand, the employers knocking on your door may not understand – but you understand: when Christ invites, only fools decline.  And you’re no fool.  Onward, and count on my prayers.

Your devoted uncle,


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