Ah, Blessed Cecilia! I love this feast day. My mind and heart go to the Church in Trastevere, just south of the Vatican, where the sacred remains of the Virgin Martyr lie in peace beneath Moderno's magnificent statue. There her sarcophagus lies with that of her husband and his brother, all witnesses to Christ through the shedding of their blood.
In the Fraternity of St Genesius, St Cecilia is invoked as one of the Holy Intercessors - Saints and Blesseds who are patrons of the various arts. Cecilia is patron of music, not because she was musician but because of a line in the story of her life and martyrdom that during her marriage ceremony she sang a song of love to God. An interesting way of becoming patron, but one which reminds us that artistic activity is, and should be, ultimately, an act of praising God. Cecilia will certainly assist us in that regard.
But Cecilia is also one of the great women of the early Church who preferred to die rather than renounce her faith in Christ. As a strong woman of faith who embraced a life of virginity and consecration even though she was forced into marriage. Instead of abandoning that promise to Christ she won her new husband over to her way of thinking and then over to her faith. She remained a virgin even though married: in this she is certainly a challenging figure for us in a time which cannot understand chastity, much less perpetual virginity.
So today we might say a prayer to St Cecilia for all our musicians, but perhaps more for those struggling with chastity: in this present age they need strong examples to encourage them.
The tomb of St Cecilia: in the Basilica, the famous statue by Moderno lies over it. Below, in the crypt, her sarcophagus is to be seen just above the altar, behind the grille:
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