As Christianity began to spread over the Roman Empire it came into conflict with the gods of Rome. Christians were aware of the words of Christ who said: "Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father." (Mt 10:33) The Romans, on the other hand, believed that their gods were to be worshipped in order to maintain prosperity in the Empire and victory in war. So Christians were forced to choose between loyalty to Christ or to Rome.
Emperor Nero began the first persecution of Christians in 64 A.D. In Rome they were put to death in the Colosseum by being attacked by wild beasts or being crucified. The Romans were blood thirsty; they enjoyed viewing spectacles to the death.
In Emperor Decius in 250 A.D. in his effort to unite the Empire decreed " that all citizens of the Empire demonstrate their loyalty to the state gods and his divine reign through public sacrifice". All citizens including Christians who refused were subject to imprisonment, torture and death.
In all the Christians endured 10 periods of persecution between 64 A.D. and 305 A.D.
St. Agatha was martyred during the persecution of Decius in 251 A.D.
Agatha was brought before Senator Quintianus, Catania, Italy. Before him she affirmed her faith in Jesus Christ. So, he placed her in a house of prostitution headed by Aphrodisia. Agatha persevered in her virtue. She was again brought before Quintianus. He had her tortured and her breasts cut off. She reproached him thus, "Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself." Agatha was miraculously healed, but four days later Quintianus had her rolled naked in live coals mixed with broken potsherds. She was carried back to prison where she prayed, "Lord, my Creator, you have protected me from the cradle, you have taken me from the love of the world, and have given me patience to suffer: receive now may soul." Thus she expired.
Her name appeared in the Cannon of the Mass of Carthage in the year 530 A.D. and today we read in the Eucharistic Prayer I : "For ourselves...we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs ... Agatha... and all the saints. Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love." (Order of the Mass)
to Emperor Constantine