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St. Cecilia’s feast honors two brothers who were martyred


Leemage via AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/21/23

St. Cecilia's husband and his brother were also martyred shortly after their conversion to the Christian faith.

While St. Cecilia is the primary saint honored on November 22, she is not the only martyr included on this feast day.

The Roman Martyrology mentions the martyrdom of her husband and his brother.

At Rome, St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, who brought to the faith of Christ to her spouse, Valerian, and his brother Tiburtius, and encouraged them to martyrdom. 

Many Eastern Christians mention their names as well, celebrating the “Virgin Martyr Cecilia and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus at Rome” on November 22.

According to the various legends surrounding St. Cecilia, she was pressured by her parents into marrying Valerian, who was initially a pagan.

Conversion to Christianity

However, on their wedding night he sought to become a Christian, as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerianus that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body; therefore Valerianus must take care not to violate her virginity. Valerianus wished to see the angel, whereupon Cecilia sent him to the third milestone on the Via Appia where he should meet Bishop (Pope) Urbanus. Valerianus obeyed, was baptized by the pope, and returned a Christian to Cecilia. An angel then appeared to the two and crowned them with roses and lilies.

Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, was impressed by his brother’s actions and similarly was baptized. Then, “as zealous children of the Faith both brothers distributed rich alms and buried the bodies of the confessors who had died for Christ.”

This caught the attention of the Roman prefect, who then sentenced them to death for their pratice of the faith.

Interestingly, Maximus, the Roman officer tasked with this duty also converted to the faith

When celebrating St. Cecilia’s feast, it is appropriate to recall the heroic example of these brothers, who were inspired by St. Cecilia and similarly gave their lives to Christ.

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