Virgin and Martyr
Memorial: November 22 - Also known as: Cecily, Cicilia, Caecilia, Celia
Cecilia is one of the most popular of Roman saints. The year of her birth is unknown, but it is believed she died about 177 A.D. in Rome. Her body was discovered incorrupt in 1599, is known to be the first Saint to be incorrupt. Saint Cecilia is the first Saint whose body experienced the phenomenon of incorruption.
Legends say that she was the daughter of patrician Roman Christians, who gave her in marriage to a young nobleman named Valerian of Trastevere, despite her desire te remain a virgin. The day on which the wedding was to be held arrived and while musical instruments were playing she was singing in her heart to God alone saying: "Make my heart and my body pure that I may not be confounded".
When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerian that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body; therefore Valerian must take care not to violate her virginity. He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel". And Cecilia said: "If you believe in the living and one true God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel." Valerian agreed and was baptized. When he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted; and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.
The two brothers, who were very wealthy, began to aid the families which had lost their support through the martyrdom of the fathers, spouses, and sons; they saw to the burial of the Christians, and continually braved the same fate as these victims. In that time in Rome it was very dangerous to be a Christian. They were arrested and brought before the prefect Almachius, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword. Cecilia buried them at her villa on the Apprian Way and was arrested for the action. Despite the fact that the Roman prefect attempted to persuade her toward more “politically correct” behavior, Cecilia refused to submit. After a failed attempt to suffocate her in a heated bath in her own home, an executioner was sent to behead her.
Sentenced to be suffocated in her own
bathroom, Cecilia survived. Three attempts to behead her mortally wounded but
failed to kill her immediately. Over the next three days, she lay in pain,
singing songs of praise to god, and comforting herself with sacred music, as her
friends came to seek her final blessings. Finally, she died, three days after
the sword failed to behead her, never once forsaking her faith in Christ. Her
grave was discovered in 817, and her body removed to the church of Saint Cecilia
in Rome; the tomb was opened and her body was discovered incorrupt in 1599, is
known to be the first saint to be incorrupt.
Patron Saint: of Church Music and of the blind.
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