Virgin and Martyr – (d. second century)
+ Cecilia was born in Rome and, despite a vow of virginity she made as a young woman, her parents arranged a marriage to a pagan nobleman named Valerian.
+ Inspired by his wife’s example, Valerian became a Christian and he chose to respect Cecilia’s vow of virginity.
+ Sometime between the year 161 and 192, Valerian and his brother, Tiburtius, were martyred for their faith. Cecilia, herself, suffered martyrdom only a few days later.
+ Saint Cecilia was buried in the catacomb of San Callisto but her relics were later moved to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastavere.
+ Honored as the patron of musicians and singers, Saint Cecilia remains one of the Church’s most popular saints and her name is included in the Roman Canon (the First Eucharistic Prayer).
Much of the legend of Saint Cecilia that we have today comes down to us in the Golden Legend, a collection of lives of saints written by Blessed James of Voragine in the 13th century. This became one of the most popular books in the Middle Ages and remains an important source of early stories of the saints.
“Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song. Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song. A new person, a new covenant; a new song.”—Saint Augustine of Hippo
O God, who gladden us each year
with the feast day of your handmaid Saint Cecilia,
grant, we pray,
that what has been devoutly handed down concerning her
may offer us examples to imitate
and proclaim the wonders worked in his servants
by Christ your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.