Brothers and sisters:
“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” proclaims the Psalmist (122). This week we celebrate St. Cecilia, so beautifully depicted in our rose window over the altar. She is known as the patroness of music because of the “song of God in her heart.” She is among the early Christian martyrs found in the Roman Canon of the Mass and famous for her Passio, a poem exalting Christian virginity. From her youth she was dedicated to God in her heart, but her father betrothed her to Valerian, a pagan. Singing to God “in her heart” she prayed and convinced Valerian to let her remain a virgin. Later, she helped Valerian to convert to Christianity and he was baptized by Bishop Urban (later Pope Urban I). Valerian’s brother, Tiberius was soon after converted by St. Cecilia. Both brothers were arrested for burying the bodies of Christian martyrs and gave testimony, converting an official (St. Maximus) before being put to death themselves; and are now listed among the martyrs and saints.
St. Cecilia was also arrested for refusing to offer sacrifice to the pagan idols. Attempts to suffocate her with smoke were unsuccessful, so a soldier was sent to behead her. She is said to have died three days later and was buried in the catacombs. Her body was found to be incorrupt during restoration work in 1599 and a life-size statue was sculpted by Stefano Maderno and placed beneath an altar.
“Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light,” declares St. Paul to the Colossians. Especially in time of trial, may St. Cecelia (with Sts. Valerian, Tiberius, and Maximus) obtain for us the grace to sing to God in our hearts (and out loud as He wills) and be always open to His directives.
In Christ, son of Mary,