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Believed to have been born in the 2nd century, not much is known about Saint Cecilia for certain. Differing dates are given by various biographers, and it is uncertain how factual her biographies are. She is thought to have been born to a patrician family in Rome. Raised a Christian, she decided at a young age that she would give herself to God. However, her father arranged a marriage between Cecilia and a young man by the name of Valerian. On the day of her marriage, Cecilia wore sackcloth next to her skin, fasted, and prayed to the saints and the angels to assist her in guarding her virginity, as she had made a personal vow of chastity. According to the story, she told her new husband that an angel was watching over her, and that the angel would be angry with anyone who took her virginity. Her husband asked to see the angel, and Cecilia told him that if he believed and was baptized, he would see the angel. She sent him to the Bishop of Ostia, who later became Pope Urban II, who baptized him. When he returned, he found Cecilia praying. An angel with flaming wings was alongside her, holding two crowns of roses and lilies. The angel placed the crowns on the heads of Cecilia and her husband, then vanished. Her husband's brother, Tibertius, entered the chambers and commented on the fragrance of the flowers. He also consented to being baptized. Valerius and Tibertius devoted their lives to burying the Christian martyrs who were being killed daily by the prefect of the city. Arrested, they were both beheaded by the prefect. Called to renounce her faith, Cecilia instead began preaching and converting others to Christianity. She was arrested and sentenced to be suffocated in the bathroom of her house. The furnace was stoked with seven times the normal amount of fuel yet, after a day and a night, she was found to be unharmed. The prefect ordered a soldier to behead her. The solder struck her three times but was unable to sever her head. She was left bleeding, however. She lived for three days, and was buried by Urban in the catacomb of Saint Callistus. Hundreds of years later, Pope Paschal I wanted to transfer her body to a place of honor, but Church officials were unable to locate her body. In a dream, Cecilia told the pope where her bones could be found. Her relics, along with the bones of Valerius and Tibertius, were moved to the Church of Saint Cecilia, and old church that was believed to be located on the site of her family home, and which was dedicated to the saint. There, he founded a monastery in their honor. In 1599, the Church of Saint Cecilia was rebuilt. At that time, her sarcophagus was opened, and her body and clothing were found to be intact. The casket was placed on display for a month, until November 22, the feast of Cecilia, and it was said that the fragrance of flowers came from her casket. That is the story, or one of them anyhow. Cecilia does not appear in Church documents until Pope Saint Gelasius (492-496) introduced her name into his Sacramentary. Cecilia is the patron saint of music because, on the day or her marriage, she heard heavenly music and sang to God in her heart. She is represented with an organ or organ pipes in her hand.

 

 

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