Sunday, October 29, 2017

St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Around the year 177 A.D. a young Roman woman named Cecilia, was raised as a Christian in a noble family in the city of Rome ruled by Roman Empire. Her father forced her to marry a young patrician man named Valerian. Cecilia, burning with great love to keep herself pure and untouched by any man, had already made a private vow of virginity. On the eve of her wedding night Cecilia, determined to keep her vow to God, told her betrothed husband, “You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me and if you should touch me in the way of marriage, he will be angry and you'll suffer. If you respect my maidenhood, he will love you as he loves me.” Intrigued by this statement her husband replied, “If it be an angel of God, I will refrain as you wish.” Though a pagan, Valerian learned about Christianity and was open to conversion. With this in mind Cecilia urged her husband to seek Baptism. “If you wish to see the angel, you must believe in the one true God and seek to be baptized with water.” Valerian went and received Baptism. Valerian along with his brother Tiburtius, became fervent converts to Christianity and the two brothers would be the first of many Christians to become martyrs. Cecilia would follow days after.

Cecilia was sentenced to a painful death. One story tells that she escaped death. The first sentence was suffocation in a hot-air bath with the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. Cecilia went in for one day and night without being scorched by the burning heat. Next Cecilia was sentenced to beheading. Three times an executioner struck her neck but was unable to fully decapitate her, Cecilia laid on the ground still alive until she gave up her spirit on the third day.

Many people say St. Cecilia's life is based on legends because there are few historical sources. But she remains one of the most common saints chosen by young people receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music because she heard the choirs of angels sing at her wedding feast. She is celebrated on November 22. We can rejoice in the life of St. Cecilia and ask her to intercede for us to have the courage to be faithful witnesses of Christ.