Agnes came from a noble Roman family. According to a fifth century Life, she was about thirteen years old when she suffered martyrdom by being stabbed in the throat, after refusing to be married to a pagan, probably at the beginning of the fourth century. Pope Damasus adorned her tomb with sacred poetry, and many of the Fathers of the Church, following St Ambrose, have honoured her in their writings. She was buried on the Via Nomentana and her name is included in the Roman Canon. She is often shown with a lamb, a symbol of her purity and also a play on her name (which in Greek means “chaste”) and the Latin word agnus (meaning ‘lamb’).