The Bride Who Sang in Her Heart

Saint Cecilia

Feast Day: 22nd November

Details about her life are sparse and obscure, but it seems likely that Cecilia was a noble Roman lady who was brought up as a Christian during the early years of the Church.

According to one account, she was very devout, wearing a plain coarse garment under her fine clothes and fasting several times a week. She wanted to dedicate her life to God as a virgin but her father chose a husband for her.

It is said that on their wedding day Cecilia told Valerian of her wish to remain a virgin. She described the Guardian Angel who was watching over her, and who would also watch over him if he respected her wishes.

Her piety was so convincing that Valerian was converted to Christianity, immediately rewarded with a vision of the angel. He converted his brother and both became enthusiastic witnesses to their faith. But it was a time of persecution for Christians and in due course the two were put to death for refusing to worship the pagan gods.

Soon afterwards Cecilia was arrested and tried on a similar charge. She was condemned to death and her martyrdom was long and painful. A soldier sent to behead her struck in a clumsy manner and she lingered for three days before dying. During that time many of the Christian community, including Pope Urban, came to visit her and many converts were baptised at her house. After her death in 230 this was converted into a church.

Saint Cecilia has long been known as the patron saint of music. It is said that on her wedding day, while the musicians were playing, she was singing to the Lord in her heart. We thank God for the gift of music, for the joy and pleasure it gives to us whether it be classical, religious, country, folk or pop. We may not be gifted singers or musicians, but whenever we come to church, like Cecilia may we sing to the Lord in our hearts and not just with our lips. Many musicians invoke the help of St. Cecilia in their work - it is said that Placido Domingo prays to Cecilia before every performance. We ask Cecilia to pray for us, so that we may have some of her joy and courage in our hearts.