St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia is well known as the patron saint of musicians. They even named the cemetery in Coco after her. But beyond the fact that she was one of the early virgin martyrs, and that she loved praising God through music, not much is known about her life.

Lifetime: Early 200s
Region: Rome; Sicily
Patronages: Musicians and singers; Poets; Argentina
Iconograpy: Musical instrument; Songbird; Lilies; Palm
Feast Day: November 22

While Cecilia is believed to be a historical figure, not many facts about her life are proven, including her name. However, she was widely believed to be a noble lady of Rome.

According to traditional accounts, Cecilia took a vow of virginity from a young age, promising that she would never marry and would instead dedicate her life to God. Despite this, her parents arranged her in marriage to a pagan nobleman named Valerian. In submission to her parents, Cecilia talked with Valerian. She told him that an angel of the Lord watched over her, and that if Valerian caused Cecilia to break her vow, the angel would punish him. However, if Valerian respected Cecilia and her vow of virginity, the angel would love and protect Valerian just as it did Cecilia.

Valerian was skeptical, so he asked Cecilia if there was a way he too could see the angel. She told him that if he traveled to meet the Pope and was baptized by him, the angel would appear to him as well. So Valerian did so, became a Christian, and returned to marry Cecilia. When he got back, he could see the angel, who crowned Cecilia with lilies and roses. Valerian agreed to respect Cecilia’s vow of virginity in their marriage.

It was said that during her wedding, Cecilia sang to God in her heart, which is why she is celebrated as the patron saint of musicians.

Valerian’s new faith was so inflamed by his wife’s faith that he soon converted his brother as well, and together they would go about burying the Christian martyrs being killed by the Romans each day. Eventually, though, they too were caught and executed for their faith.

Cecilia, during this time, preached to the people, converting hundreds, before she too was captured by the Romans. She was condemned to be suffocated in the baths. The executioner lit the fires to a terrifying heat, locked her in, and sealed up all the vents and doors so that the heat and lack of air would kill her. However, Cecilia did not even sweat.

When that didn’t work, the executioner took matters more directly into his hands. He took out his sword and tried to chop off her head. But after swinging at her three times, he couldn’t cut through enough to kill her. He gave up, leaving her to bleed out. It took three days for her to die of these wounds, and while she did she preached and prayed. When she died, she was buried by the pope in the same crypt where many popes were buried.

Soon after her death, Cecilia’s home was made into a church, according to her dying wish. Centuries later, as veneration of Cecilia as a saint spread, they retrieved her remains from the catacomb to transfer it to the church built in her honor. More than a thousand years after her death, Cecilia’s sarcophagus was opened. The examiners were surprised to find her blood still congealed in her veins, her flesh still intact, and a pleasant flowery smell emanating from her, making her the earliest incorrupt saint. A statue above her tomb depicts how she was found by these examiners, and includes the cut in her neck from her martyrdom.

Popular posts from this blog

St. Muirgen the Mermaid

St. Hildegard von Bingen

St. Modomnoc of Ossory