St. Agnes is the patron saint of girls, and legend has it that virgins may see their future husbands in their dreams during the night of St. Agnes’s Eve on January 20.
For the ritual to work, the young girl was to go to bed without supper, and undress completely before climbing into bed naked. Lying on her back, with her hands under the pillow, she would dream of her future husband, who would kiss her and feast with her.
The legend is immortalized in the 42-stanza poem by English Romantic John Keats “The Eve of St. Agnes”, written in 1819. Here’s the first stanza.
St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.
To learn more about St. Agnes, pick up a copy of Chronicles of Old Rome from Museyon Guides.