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Saints for Today!

SAINT CECILIA

Patron Saint of Musicians
November 22
Saint Cecilia was born in Rome. She was very rich and distinguished, but she lived a life a prayer and penance. When she was very young, her father gave her in marriage to a youthful pagan patrician named Valerian, On the wedding day, amid the music and rejoicing of the guests, she sat apart, singing to God in her heart. She renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God. Celicia later converted her husband to the faith of Christ. Because he helped Cecilia in her charity toward the poor, he was put to death. Later Cecilia was arrested. She chose death rather than sacrifice to the gods and renounce her faith.

Fearing her youth , her nobility, and above all her charity to the poor would arouse the people If she were executed publicly. Almachius, the Prefect of Rome, had her imprisoned in the vapor or steam bath of her own home that she might die of suffocation. Around the walls of this room ran leaden pipes which were heated to such a high degree that death seemed inevitable.

Celicia remained a whole day and night in this stifling steam without suffering any harm. Finding himself forced to shed the blood of this Roman lady, Almachius sent an executioner to behead her. With trembling hand he struck the three bows which the law allowed but failed to cut of the head of Cecilia. She fell to the floor. For two days and nights she lay on the pavement of her bath, alive and fully conscious, with her head half-severed.

The Christians rushed in after the hasty departure of the executioner and, with linen cloths, wiped up the blood flowing from her wounds, but did not raise her from the floor. On the third morning the venerable Bishop Urban came to say good-bye to Cecilia. As she lay dying, she requested palace be made into a church that the poor she had always loved should be cared for. She was lying on the right side, her hands as if she crossed in prayer before her. She turned face to the floor so that no one might disturb her last secret communing with God and then expired. A story relates that the position of her fingers – three extended on her right hand and one on the left – were her final silent profession of faith in the Holy Trinity. Her death probable occurred in the year 117.

 

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