About St. Cecilia
St. Cecilia’s life
The story of St. Cecilia, like that of many of the saints venerated in the fourth and fifth centuries, is by itself a romance, a story. According to church history, Cecilia was a maiden of noble birth. At an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow of chastity. She, however, was betrothed and married to a young noble named Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to protect her virginity. History records, “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” (McKinnon 46). Many historians believe that this text lead to the eventual naming of Cecilia as the patroness of music. In the original Latin, the term for musical instruments is “cantantibus organis,” and in later texts it was translated that she was playing an organ instead of listening to music as she prayed (McKinnon 46). 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 (Catholic On-line Encyclopedia). At this time, Christianity was still illegal in Rome. 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. It required two attempts, however, before the death of Cecilia was successful. She was first locked in a bath in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe failed to sever her head from her body, however, and she lived for three days. During this time, she saw to the disbursement of her assets to help the poor, and she donated her home to the ecclesiastical authorities to be used as a church. In the fifth century, this church was considered to be the one at Trastevere which bears her name. Cecilia is believed to be buried at the Catacomb of Callistus.
St. Cecilia, glorious Virgin and Martyr of Jesus Christ, I admire the courage with which you professed your faith in the face of severe persecution, and the generous love with which you offered your life in witness to your belief in the Blessed Trinity. I thank God with you for the wonderful graces He had bestowed upon you to make your life holy and pleasing to Him even in the midst of the wealth that was yours. I thank Him for the privilege offered to you of receiving the glorious crown of martyrdom..
Saint Cecilia, I also admire the purity of love that bound you to the Savior, which was greater in your eyes than any human affection, so that you declared yourself before the enemies of the Church, “I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ”. Pray for me that in imitation of you I may keep my body pure and my soul holy, and that I may love Jesus with all my heart.
In these times so full of pleasure seeking and so lacking in faith, teach us to profess our faith courageously and to be willing to sacrifice ourselves in practicing it, so that our good example may lead others closer to Christ and the Church He as founded. In thanksgiving to God for the graces he bestowed on St Cecilia: Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be. St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr of Jesus Christ, pray for us.
St. Cecilia, I confide in your intercession because you generously offered your life as a sacrifice for the love of Jesus, to whom you were devoted with your whole heart and soul. Jesus will not refuse your prayers. Beg Jesus to grant me this favor: (Mention your request.)
For the sake of Jesus Christ, Who filled your heart with pure and heroic love, Who crowned you with the glorious crown of martyrdom, Who permitted your body to remain incorrupt through these many centuries, and Who willed that your memory be praised by the Church at every Holy Day Mass, I earnestly ask you to intercede for me. I resign myself entirely to the Holy Will of God. Help me to imitate your faith and love of God, that I may be ready to make any sacrifice for my Catholic faith. Through your prayers may I someday reach heaven and praise with you the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the loving Spouse of your soul and mine. Amen.