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Saint Cecilia

Saint Cecilia
  • Century: 2nd Century
  • Patronage: Church Music, Musicians, Poets, Archdiocese of Omaha
  • Feast Day: November 22nd

St. Cecilia is patroness of musicians, and Church music because as she was dying, she sang praise to God.  It is also written that as the musicians played at her wedding, she “sang in the heart to the Lord”.  She was an only Child.  She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.  She was a noble lady of Rome who was martyred in 230 along with her husband Valerian, his brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier named Maximus.  

Her martyrdom is said to have followed that of her husband and his brother.  The officers of the prefect then sought to have Cecilia killed as well.  She arranged to have her home preserved as a Church before she was arrested.  At that time, the officials attempted to kill her by smothering her by steam.  However, the attempt failed, and she was to be beheaded.  But they were unsuccessful three times and she would not die until she received the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  

St. Cecilia survived another three days before succumbing, being locked in a cell.  In the last three days of her life she opened her eyes, gazed at her family and friends who crowded around her cell.  She closed her eyes, and never opened them again.  The people by her cell knew immediately that she was to become a saint in heaven.  When her incorruptible body was found long after her death, it was found that on one hand she had two fingers outstretched and on the other hand, just one finger, denoting her belief in the Holy Trinity.  

The Sisters of St. Cecilia are a group of women consecrated Religious Sisters.  They are the ones who shear the lamb’s wool, used to make the “Palluims” for the new Archbishops.  The lambs are raised by the Cistercian Trappist Fathers of the Three Fountains Abbey in Rome.  The Pope blesses the lambs every January 21, on the feast of St. Agnes.  The Pope gives the Palluims to the new Archbishops on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29th.  

A Church in her honor exists in Rome from about the 5th century, and was rebuilt by Pope Paschal I around the year 820, and again by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati in 1599.  St. Cecilia’s musical fame rests on the legend that she was beheaded and at the same time praised God, singing to Him, as she lay dying a martyr’s death.  She is most frequently depicted playing an organ or other musical instrument.  Countless musical societies and conservatories have been named for St. Cecilia.  

Practical Take Away

St. Cecilia was a great woman of faith, and was an early martyr of the Church.  She was beheaded singing praise to God, and is the patron saint of musicians and Church music.  She is one of seven women commemorated in the Canon of the Mass by name.  Many musical societies and conservatories have been named in her honor.