Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Feast of St. Cecilia of Rome
St. Cecilia by Domenichino (+1641AD).
St. Cecilia of Rome, martyred during the pontificate of Pope St. Urban I (Bishop of Rome, 222-230AD), is justly famous as the patroness of Music, for her remains found incorrupt over a thousand years after her death, and for the wonderful basilica dedicated to her in Rome.
St. Cecilia was a member of a noble Roman family, who managed to convert her husband, Valerianus, and brother-in-law, Tiburtius, who had been pagans. She would be condemned to death all the same. Tragically, when she was being executed, the executioner failed to sever her head in three strikes, leaving her to linger for three days. She is reputed to have sung, as she could, in those days before she died, and hence her patronage of musicians.
Here are a couple of links to accounts of the life of St. Cecilia:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Cecilia
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Cecilia
Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Cecilia
The Statue the Martyrdom of St. Cecilia by Stefano Maderno (+1636AD). It is located under the main altar of the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Rome.
["St Cecilia's Martyrdom" by Sébastien Bertrand from Paris, France - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons]
When the tomb of St. Cecilia was opened in 1599AD, around the time of a massive renovation of the Basilica in Trastevere bearing her name, her remains were found to be incorrupt. The scupltor, Stefano Maderno, carved what it was that they saw upon finding the incorrupt saints relics. Notice her hands held in such that there are three fingers extended on one hand, and but one on the other -- an affirmation of her belief in the Holy Trinity.
The facade of the Basilica of St. Cecilia. The facade itself dates to the 18th century.
The interior of the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Rome.
["Santa-Maria-In-Trastevere-Interior" by Dreamword at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]
The Basilica in Rome that houses the relics of St. Cecilia and bears her name is located in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere ("across the Tiber"). Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a Romanesque-style Basilica that was first constructed in the 5th century, on the site of an earlier Church, and, according to a tradition, the home of St. Cecilia. The church has since undergone a series of renovations and improvements.
Here is a link to the website of the Church: Basilica di Santa Cecilia