Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Saint Cecilia- Virgin and Martyr

22 November

Albi France, composers, martyrs, music, musicians, musical instrument makers, Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, poets, singers

Saint Cecilia was a maiden of noble birth, native to Rome. At an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow of chastity. She, however, was betrothed and married a young noble, Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to protect her virginity. St. Cecilia's prayers were answered, and Valerian was willing to take her as his wife without forcing her to break her vow. Not only did he accept her vow of chastity, he and his brother Tiburtius were both converted to Christianity and were baptized by Pope Urban I. Christianity was still illegal in Rome at this time. Both Valerian and his brother Tiburtius were soon discovered as professed Christians and were martyred.

Cecilia was discovered soon after and met a similar fate. She was called on to denounce her faith, which she refused to do. Instead she converted those who came to kill her. It required two attempts before the death of Cecilia. She was first locked in a bath, in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath after a day and a half unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe three times failed to sever her head from her body and she lived for three days. During that time, she saw to the disbursment of her assets to help the poor, and she donated her home to the ecclesiastical authorities to be used as a church.

Pope Urbanus buried her among the bishops and the confessors in the Catacomb of Callistus. When the tomb was opened in 1599 her body was found to be incorrupt.

O Eternal God, Who gave us, in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days, like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise You and bless You forevermore in eternity. Amen.
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