There is evidence that Agatha was venerated at least as far back as the sixth century, but all that we know for sure is that she was born in Sicily and died there, a martyr.
It is thought that she belonged to a rich and prominent family, and from a young age she dedicated her life to God, resisting men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, was of a high rank and wrongly presumed that she would acquiesce. Knowing that she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he ordered her arrest. He expected her to give in when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God in a prayer, asking Jesus for strength to overcome confrontation with the Devil.
The story is that Quintian, in his role as judge, imprisoned her in a brothel in order to change her mind, and brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation. Agatha never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian moved her to a prison, intending to frighten her but instead, she felt relief, and as she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured. He refused her medical care but God sent her the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter.
She died during torture after saying a final prayer of thanks to God, asking Him to receive her soul.
One of the tortures that she is thought to have suffered was to have her breasts cut off and she is often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread.
She was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna and is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire.
She is also considered the patroness of bellmakers for an unknown reason -- though some speculate it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms.
Her feast day is 5th February.
Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger. Amen.