Emerentiana's likeness on the Royal Gold Cup
Rome, Roman Empire
|Major shrine||Basilica of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, Rome, Italy|
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 baptized. Catholics believe martyrs are "baptized by blood," and therefore can attain Heaven even before they had the chance to receive baptism into the Catholic Church, which is normally necessary for salvation.
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 told them she was Agnes' foster sister, 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 lilies in her hand, or is being stoned to death by a mob. Her tomb is in the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome. An altar dedicated to her with a marble relief by Ercole Ferrata depicting her martyrdom is in Sant'Agnese in Agone.
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