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The Feast of St. Cecilia

On November 22, the Church remembers St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, the patroness of music and specifically church music.

Saint Cecilia's inclusion in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (martyrology of Jerome) indicates she has been venerated since at least the 4th century. There is not much known for sure however about the details of her life; in the 5th and 6th centuries, romanticized stories of her life became popular. The existence and location of her grave and the tombs of the other martyrs mentioned with her in the stories from the 6th century indicate a connection between the saints, but how accurately the legend describes the relationship and events in not known.

The Legend of St. Cecilia

The popular biography of St. Cecilia describes her as the well-educated, cultured daughter of a noble or senatorial family in Rome. She was a pious Christian from early in her childhood, but then as a young woman was given in marriage to a noble pagan, Valerianus (also called Valerian). Once the marriage celebration had taken place, Cecilia informed Valerianus that an angel guarded her body, and that Valerianus must respect and not violate her vow of virginity. Her husband wanted to see the angel, and Cecilia told him that he would need to be purified in order to do so. Valerianus went to be baptized by the Pope, and returned to Cecilia as a Christian. The angel then appeared to them both and crowned the two with roses and lilies.

Tiburtius, the brother of Valerianus, came to him and Cecilia and soon after became a Christian as well. The brothers, who became zealous children of faith, distributed alms and buried the bodies of the confessors who had been killed for their dedication to Christ. For this, a prefect named Turcius Almachius condemned them to death. Maximus, an officer of the prefect, was appointed to carry out the execution. Instead, he too was converted to Christianity and was martyred along with Tiburtius and Valerianus. The widowed Cecilia buried the three men together.

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One comment

  1. Please let me know when the The Parish Book of Chant is available. Thank you.

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