Reading Agnes: The Changing Images of St. Agnes of Rome

Hiu Ki Chan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper works on the changing images of St. Agnes in the late antiquity period. Focusing on the three earliest surviving accounts of Agnes’ passion by Damasus, Ambrose and Prudentius, it explores the development of St. Agnes narratives in early Christianity. More specifically, it examines the historical context of these accounts and argues that the authors shaped Agnes’ martyrdom according to their own agendas; while at the same time, collectively they formed an evolving virgin martyr tradition that represented the ideal image of a Christian woman in Christendom. The representation of the paper follows the chronological development of the texts, and analyse them within a broader fourth-century interpretive context.


ConferenceImbas Conference ‘Misinterpretation and Misunderstanding of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages’
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  • St. Agnes
  • early church martyrdom
  • virgin martyr
  • making of saints


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