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Catholic Activity: Nameday Ideas for St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr



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Helen Mcloughlin's My Nameday Come for Dessert has various ideas for celebrating namedays throughout the year, but these ideas could also be applied to just celebrating the saint's day.

Included here are ideas for saints included in the Roman Canon of the Mass and also Virgin Martyrs.



Ignatius was added to our third child's name because his brother and sister had as patrons Peter and Cecilia. In this way the children claimed patrons whose names are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass daily. The Canon contains the names of forty saints; many are mentioned more than once. Yet how seldom do we think of them, how seldom do we review their lives.

Children who have these saints for patrons should feel especially honored, for in every Mass holy Mother Church invokes their intercession. Andy, Jude, and Judy will find their patrons, Andrew and Jude respectively, mentioned in the prayer called the Communicantes. Comelia, Connie, Corney and Neil will find their patron Cornelius listed there too, as will Lawrence, Loren, Laureen, and Laura.

St. Andrew's symbols are a fish, a fisherman's net, or a cross saltire (X); St. Jude's is a ship, and St. Cornelius', a sword. For St. Lawrence the symbol is fire, suggesting a flaming dessert. St. Clement has an anchor as his symbol.

In the Nobis quoque peccatoribus we find listed St. Bartholomew, patron of Bartley and Nathaniel; Alexander, patron of Sandra. There is also a patron for Lucille, St. Lucy; for Sheila, St. Cecilia; and for Stacey, St. Anastasia, "into whose company, we pray You, admit us, not weighing our merits but bestowing on us Your free pardon." St. Michael the Archangel is mentioned, as well as St. John the Baptist.

The cross cake is for Bartholomew; a blazing dessert for Alexander, Sandra, Lucinda, Lucille, and Lucy; a harp or a wreath of roses on a cake for Cecilia, Cecil and Sheila (or the musical cake; and the ship cake for Stacey and Ansty.

At Mass we honor many patrons, "reverencing the memory first of glorious Mary, ever Virgin, St. Joseph...likewise of the blessed apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, and Thaddeus; of Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all the saints, by whose merits and prayers grant that we may be guarded...." Of these saints, twelve are martyrs, five were popes, one a bishop, one a deacon, one a cleric, and four were laymen.

In the Nobis quoque peccatoribus we also invoke Sts. Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, and Anastasia. Of the first seven, most are well known. Marcellinus, patron of Marcel and Marcella, was a priest, Peter an exorcist. Of the women saints mentioned in this prayer, two were married, four were virgins, and one was a widow.

A pamphlet entitled Saints of the Canon of the Mass by Rev. E. P. Graham is published by the Paulist Press. It includes a reproduction of the saints of the Canon, the original of which hangs in St. John the Baptist Church, Canton, Ohio.

The martyr-saints have been honored by our Lord in a special way: "Thou hast set upon his head a crown of precious stones." For their feasts we suggest a cake topped by a crown of jeweled gumdrops, a crown cake, or a frozen gelatine dessert in a crown mold.


Father: O Madonna and saints of the Mass, who are so marvelously enshrined in the sacred rite to be with our Lord when He returns to offer Himself anew for us, thus recalling the holy group who accompanied Him in His journeys on earth, we, your clients, humbly pray that through your intercession we may understand better and honor and love more profoundly the mystery of the holy Sacrifice which He established on the eve of His death. Amen.
All: O Madonna and saints of the Mass, pray that assistance at the daily Sacrifice may increase.


How fortunate are girls named after the glorious virgin-martyrs who battled to maintain their integrity and faith, and in return were divinely protected and rewarded. The virgin-martyrs sacrificed what was naturally good for the sake of God, the supreme Good. Their lives should inspire the faithful, and particularly their namesakes, to pay due homage to God. Nameday prayers on feasts of virgin-martyrs:

Father: Come, O spouse of Christ, receive the crown which has been prepared for you forever by the Lord, for whose love you shed your blood.
All: In your splendor and your beauty, make ready, ride in triumph, and rule.
Father: Let us pray. O God, from whose bounty all good gifts proceed and who in Your virgin-martyr N. . . . did both give the flower of virginity and the palm of martyrdom, at her intercession unite our souls to You by love so that we may avoid all perils and gain the rewards of eternity. Through Christ, our Lord.
All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Desserts and suggestions

During the Middle Ages, lilies and red roses were used in wreaths to commemorate the namedays of these saints. Chaucer was familiar with this usage:

Thou with thy garland, wrought of rose and lilies,
Thee mene13 I, mayde and martyr, seint Cecile.

We encircle the nameday cake for our Sheila (Gaelic for Cecilia) with fresh, artificial, or icing flowers, usually wafer roses and calla lilies. Sometimes we use the dessert for a martyr (see Martyrs Chiffon Dessert) or the cake with musical notation (see Musical Cake).

Other cakes suitable for a virgin-martyr are the crown cake , which designates her recompense in heaven, and the cross cake , which reminds the nameday child that her patron heeded the Lord's admonition: "Take up your cross and follow Me."

For Sts. Agnes and Reine the lamb cake is used.

Cut-up cakes are particularly appropriate for Anastasia, whose attribute is a ship; Irene (a horse); and for Priscilla, Thecla, and Blandina (a lion).

The sword as a symbol of martyrdom can be made with Cake-Mate, a gel that writes like a pencil on cake tops; it is available in most supermarkets. This is appropriate for the feasts of the virgin-martyrs Agatha; Winifred, patron of Una, Oona, Gwen, Gwenfrewi; Parnel, English form of Petronilla; Eugenia; Vivian; Victoria; Theodora; Anatolia; Priscilla; Valerie; Euphemia.

St. Cecilia's symbol, the harp, should not be hard to locate; we found one which was meant as a planter in a florist shop and used it as a centerpiece. There are gold paper decals in this form which have exciting uses for a child on place-cards, candy cups, and even on cakes. St. Julia's symbol, the cross, instrument of her martyrdom, comes in gummed seals for about. The same symbol is used for St. Faith; Hope and Charity have an anchor and a heart respectively as their special signs. On St. Eulalia's day white icing doves. are used on a cross cake. The fleur-de-lis is used for the French nuns, Blessed Henrietta, patron of Harriet, Blessed Constance, and Blessed Charlotte, martyrs of the Revolution.

In addition to the sword attribute, St. Winifred also has a fountain as a symbol, as does Reine. St. Lucy has a lamp.

Our devotion to St. Agatha has resulted in a collection of color and black-and-white prints of the works of artists who have treated this saint. Prints come from Alinari's in Florence, Italy. A similar collection could be made for other saints from the same source, either by mail or by a personal visit to the gallery in Florence.

In Italy St. Agatha's feastday celebration is kept with fireworks. In her honor a chef in a famous New York night club created a recipe he called "Flambe Cherry Pie." This is not a recipe for little children; it is quite adult. Cherries Jubilee might be served over ice cream for the children while the grownups have the following dessert.

Activity Source: My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1962