DOMINIQUE RIZZO IN CONVERSATION WITH SAINT AGATHA (courtesy of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
DR: Dear Saint Agatha.
SA: I am. Lord Jesus Christ, you created me, you watched over me from infancy, kept my body from defilement, preserved me from love of the world.
DR: I can’t imagine the courage it took, and the strength of your faith. When my father first took us back to Sicily, I saw how the community honours the saints. I try to picture myself in your shoes. I couldn’t do what you did.
SA: I’m not sure I understood, Dominique. Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am – you alone. I am your sheep. Make me worthy to overcome the Devil.
DR: Quintianus arrested you because you wouldn’t renounce your promise to God and consent to sin with him. St Agatha, you were a child.
SA: We are all children, Dominique. He arrested me for my faith in Jesus Christ. He arrested me because I would not renounce my vow. They used tongs and then knives. If you threaten me with wild beasts, know that at the Name of Christ they grow tame; if you use fire, from heaven angels will drop healing dew on me.
DR: *sobs* They cut off your breasts.
SA: Just as wheat cannot arrive at the granary before it is cleansed from the chaff, so my soul cannot enter into Paradise if my body, beforehand, is not humbled by tortures. Yes, they did. Also fire and shards.
DR: To me, you are the essence of a young woman of strength believing in yourself and God.
SA: *smiles, beatific* Saint Peter came to my cell and healed me. I am the patron saint of bell-founding.
DR: But also of women who have breast cancer and of rape and violence against women. Given what’s going on in our world today… When I go into churches, I cry, Saint Agatha.
SA: I said to my torturer, on the last day, your words be but wind, your promises be but rain, and your menaces be as rivers that pass.
DR: I was in Sicily for your feast day, and the bakers made minni di virgini in your honour, little rounded cakes filled with ricotta, coated with marzipan, a cherry on top.
SA: Cakes! I love cakes. I’m the patron saint of bakers too, Dominique, and you aspire to pure food so we’re sisters as well as children of God. And also earthquakes and volcanoes because the Lord unleashed them to punish my tormentors who will burn and suffer in Hell for all eternity. All eternity. *smiles, beatific*
DR: You are a martyr.
SA: I am a girl who died at fifteen.
DR: Exactly. I am in awe of you, Saint Agatha.
SA: Blessings, sister.