Feast Day of Saint Cecilia~*Nov 22*
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs,
even if the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. According to Kirsch, while it is a pious romance, like so many others compiled in the fifth
and sixth century, the existence of the martyrs, however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts, has perhaps some historical foundation. Her feast has been celebrated since about the fourth century.
It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Rome who,
with her husband Valerian, his brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier Maximus, suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus. The research of Giovanni Battista de Rossi agrees with the statement of Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 600), that she perished in Sicily under Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180.
Saint Cecilia with an Angel, Gentileschi
According to the story, when the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that she had an angel of the Lord watching over her who would punish him if he dared to violate her virginity but who would love him if he could respect her maidenhood. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he would see the angel if he would go
to the third milestone on the Via Appia (the Appian Way) and be baptized by Pope Urbanus.
The martyrdom of Cecilia is said to have followed that of Valerian and his brother by the prefect Turcius Almachius. The legend about Cecilia's death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.
There is no mention of this saint in the Depositio Martyrum, but there is a record of an
early Roman Christian church founded by a lady of this name. The Church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere is reputedly built on the site of the house in which she lived. The original church was constructed in the fourth century; her remains were placed there in the ninth century and the church was rebuilt in 1599.
Meaning of the Name
The name "Cecilia" was shared by all women of the Roman gens known as the Caecilii, whose
name may be related to the root of 'caecus', blind. Legends and hagiographies, mistaking it
for a personal name, suggest fanciful etymologies. Among those cited by Chaucer in The Second Nun's Tale are: lily of heaven; the way for the blind; contemplation of heaven and the active life; as if lacking in blindness; a heaven for people to gaze upon.
Patroness of musicians***
The first record of a music festival in her honor was held at Évreux in Normandy in 1570.
The National Academy of Santa Cecilia is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. It was founded by the papal bull, Ratione congruit, issued by Sixtus V in 1585, which invoked two saints prominent in Western musical history: Gregory the Great, for whom the Gregorian chant is named, and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music.
Her feast day became an occasion for musical concerts and festivals that occasioned well-known poems by John Dryden and Alexander Pope, and music by Henry Purcell (Ode to St. Cecilia), several oratorios by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (In honorem Caeciliae, Valeriani et Tiburtij canticum, and several versions of Caecilia virgo et martyr, to libretti probably written by Philippe Goibaut), George Frideric Handel (Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, Alexander's Feast), Charles Gounod (Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cecile), as well as Benjamin Britten, (who was born on her feast day). Herbert Howells' A Hymn to Saint Cecilia has words by Ursula Vaughan Williams, Gerald Finzi's "For Saint Cecilia", Op. 30, was set to verses written by Edmund Blunden, and Frederik Magle's Cantata to Saint Cecilia is based on the history of Cecilia.
Legacy***Cecilia has become a symbol of the conviction that good music is an integral part of liturgy