Saint of the Week:
She sang in her heart to God alone, “O Lord, let my heart and my body be undefiled.”
FEAST DAY: November 22
PATRON SAINT of musicians
For centuries St. Cecelia has remained one of the church’s most beloved saints and one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs. However, all we know about Cecelia comes from a 5th century legend that has no historical evidence to support it.
According to legend, Cecelia dedicated her virginity to Christ, but her father betrothed her to Valerian, a young pagan. Though she was forced into marriage, Cecelia was still determined to keep her commitment. She fasted for 2-3 days prior to her wedding day and wore a shirt made of hair underneath her gown on her nuptial day. She said to Valerian: “I have for my lover an angel of God, who guards my body with exceeding zeal! If he sees you but lightly touch me for sordid love, he will smite you, and you will lose the fair flower of your youth. But if he knows that you love me with a pure love, he will love you as he loves me, and will show you his glory!”
Instead of being scared away by the hair shirt, Valerian followed Cecelia’s directions and sought baptism from Pope Urban I. Then Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, was also converted. They were soon beheaded for burying the bodies of those who had been martyred. Cecelia herself was condemned for refusing to worship the gods. After an attempt to suffocate her in her own bathroom failed, a soldier was ordered to behead her but he bungled the job. Cecelia lay dying for three days, during which she bequeathed her property to the church.
Cecelia’s story may be purely fictitious, but this fiction conveys truths that stimulate our faith. To this day, St. Cecelia continues to inspire many to live for God alone no matter what it costs.