Celebrated NOVEMBER 22.
ON the evening of her wedding-day, with the music of the marriage-hymn ringing in her ears, Cecilia, a rich, beautiful and noble Roman maiden, renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God.
“Pure be my heart and undefiled my flesh; for I have a spouse you know not of—an angel of my Lord.” The heart of her young husband Valerian was moved by her words; he received baptism, and within a few days he and his brother Tiburtius, who had been brought by him to a knowledge of the faith, sealed their confession with their blood. Cecilia only remained.
“Do you not know,” was her answer to the threats of the prefect, “that I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ?” The death appointed for her was suffocation, and she remained a day and a night in a hot-air bath, heated seven times its wont. But “the flames had no power over her body, neither was a hair of her head singed.”
The lictor sent to dispatch her struck with trembling hand the three blows which the law allowed, and left her still alive. For two days and nights Cecilia lay with her head half severed on the pavement of her bath, fully sensible, and joyfully awaiting her crown; on the third the agony was over, and A.D. 177, the virgin Saint gave back her pure spirit to Christ.
Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
The church of Santa 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; during the ninth century,
Pope Paschal I had remains which were supposedly hers buried there. In 1599, while leading a renovation of the church, Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati had the remains, which he reported to be incorrupt, excavated and reburied.