Buongiorno! How are you? Hope you are well. You might recognize the opening greeting as “Good morning!” in Italian. That’s the native language which tomorrow’s Saint of the Day, Cecilia, would likely have spoken. If it wasn’t Italian, per se, it would have probably been an amalgamation of Italian and Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire. Some of you might be familiar with the song of “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel. While its lyrics are not entirely wholesome nor related to our saintly friend the catchy tune no doubt skyrocketed the popularity of the name Cecilia. We will focus not so much on the famous song or even the name but rather the holy woman who lived as a saint and died as a martyr for the love of Christ.
Right from the get-go it should be noted that there are not vast quantities of historical documents or information about the life of St.
Caecilia (That’s the Latin rendition of Cecilia). Some of this is due to the fact that she grew up in the second century and the records about her life were not preserved. As such, much of what has been passed down through the centuries is admittedly legendary. Nonetheless, the fact remains that a holy young woman named Caecilia/Cecilia lived in Rome in the late 100s or early 200s and that devotion has spread to her in the time since then.
According to one of the more well-known versions of her life’s story, Cecilia was a courageous Catholic Christian woman who had had consecrated herself to the Lord from an early age. She had taken a personal vow of virginity to be totally dedicated to God in her body, soul, and very way of being. In spite of that reality her parents wanted her to have a happy and fulfilling life as a married woman with the possibility of being a loving mother someday. They got to know a nobleman named Valerian who was a pagan in his religious beliefs but who also had a good heart. It was he who the parents arranged for Cecilia to marry.
On the day of their wedding Cecilia sang out joyfully to the Lord for this unexpected turn of events. Towards the close of the day she shared with Valerian that she was dedicated completely to Christ and that an angel protected her from breaking that vow. Understandably skeptical but curious at what this meant, the nobleman was told by Cecilia that he could see her guardian angel if they would journey along a road and then he be baptized by the Bishop of Rome, that is to say Pope Urban I. Remarkably, Valerian did what Cecilia said. He might have been one of the first husbands in history to live the motto, “Happy Wife. Happy Life…”
Jokes aside, Valerian and a brother repented of their pagan beliefs and were drawn into the Catholic Christian faith. As a sign of their sincere conversion they began to practice one of the corporal works of mercy, namely burying the dead. Since Christianity was being persecuted at this time in history their actions were punishable by death. In God’s Providential Plan, they were arrested and met their martyrdom not long after. Cecilia, being the bride of Valerian, was herself arrested and martyred for her pure love of Jesus Christ. We ask for her prayerful intercession that by the song of our lives we would glorify the Lord here on Earth and one day join her in the celestial choir for all eternity.