The feast day of St. Cecelia is November 22nd.
St. Cecelia was born in Rome in the first century. She was born into an esteemed family. Although Cecilia was very rich, she lived a life of prayer and penance. She was given in marriage to a young pagan patrician named Valerian. Cecelia shared her promise of celibacy, and consecration to God with her husband. During the wedding, it is said that she sat apart, singing to God in her heart with thanksgiving.
Valerian converted to Christianity and he honored her desire to remain a virgin. He helped Cecilia in her charity toward the poor. Because of this, he was arrested and put to death.
Almachius, the Prefect of Rome, feared her nobility and charity to the poor. He had her imprisoned in the steam bath of her own home, trying to suffocate her. After a full day and night in stifling steam, Cecilia survived without harm. This resulted in Almachius sending an executioner to behead her. She was struck three times, but she was not beheaded. She fell to the floor. After several days of bleeding in her own bath, Christians rushed in to help her. On the third morning the venerable Bishop Urban visited Cecilia. As she lay dying, she requested that her palace be made into a church for the poor. She died praying, after receiving the Eucharist, probably in the year 177. Her body was buried in the Catacomb of Saint Callistus.
In 817, her tomb was discovered by Pope Paschal I. Her body was one of the first of over a hundred saints whose bodies were discovered to be incorrupt. Her body remained as it was when she died. Her relics were put into the crypt in the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trasrevere. When her tomb was opened in 1599, her body was perfectly incorrupt. Her neck still had marks of being struck with a sword.
St. Cecelia is the patron of musicians, because of the zeal with which she sang the divine praises of thanksgiving.. Her spirituality included a love of music. St. Cecilia is often venerated in poetry and music.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us reflect on a quote by St. Augustine: “To sing, is to pray twice.”
Dear St. Cecelia, may we also have thanksgiving in our hearts; turning to God in song and prayer, to guide us through each day, striving to do God’s will.
Credit: Best Loved Saints by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik