Saturday, February 24, 2007

St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs. Her martyrdom probably occurred during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus, about the year 230. Cecilia led a life of prayer and meditation and had vowed lifelong virginity, but a youth by the name of Valerian, relying upon the approval of her parents, hoped to marry her. When the wedding night arrived, she confided to Valerian that she had dedicated herself to God. Valerian was later baptized and he then sought the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. When Almachius, the prefect, heard of the conversions, he ordered their arrest and execution.

At dawn, Cecilia roused the two brothers to struggle heroically for Christ, as the glow of morning disappeared, Cecilia called: "Arise, soldiers of Christ, throw away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." Cecilia pursued her victory as the soldiers willingly listened, "We believe that Christ is the true Son of God, who has chosen such a servant." Led before the prefect, she professed her faith in Christ, "We profess His holy Name and we will not deny Him."

In order to avoid further show, the prefect commanded her to be suffocated in the baths. She remained unharmed and prayed, "I thank You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, that through Your Son the fire was extinguished at my side." Beheading was next in order. The executioner made three attempts (the law prohibited more) and let her lie in her blood. She lived for three days, encouraging the poor and dedicating her home into a church.

Santa Ceclilia in Trastevere, Rome, November 4, 2006

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