St. Cecilia, patroness of music and musicians


By Mel ­Mantanona

One incredible aspect and treasure of our faith is the stunning music. The melodious hymns and musical compositions that have transcended throughout time. During the second century in the city of Rome, the future patron saint of music, St. Cecilia was born from a rich family and was sworn off to marry a young man named Valerian. Though of great wealth, Cecilia wore sackcloth, fasted often, and did many pious practices. She took a vow of virginity and sought on the intercession of saints, angels, and virgins to protect her virginity.

On the day of her marriage, she was said to have sung to God in her heart. Before the consummation of her marriage, she told her husband about her vow of virginity and of the angel protecting her.

Valerian wanted proof and asked to see the angel. She told him that he would only be able to see after he was baptized by Pope Urban I whom lived far away. Her husband traveled the distance for the baptism and upon his arrival back home, he saw his wife’s angel by her side. He witnessed the angel crown Cecilia with a chapel of rose and lily.

Valerian’s brother heard about what happened and became baptized right away and the brothers devoted their lives to burying the people who were murdered by prefect, Tarcius Almachius. Once their doings were made known by authorities, Valerian and his brother were arrested and killed after refusing to put forth a sacrifice for the gods.

Cecilia spent her life before her death preaching and her actions, through the grace of God, were able to convert over 400 people. Eventually, she was arrested and sent away to the baths to suffocate.

Although she was trapped for one day and night surrounded by fires and excruciating heat, she didn’t sweat at all. Upon hearing this, Almachius had her head cut off in the baths. For some unknown reason, her executioner was unable to decapitate her despite having attempted to do so three times so he left her to bleed out and die.

For three more days, Cecilia bled out. People visited her to hear her preach, pray, and some even collected her blood. Three days later, she died and was buried by Pope Urban I.

She is the patron saint of music and musicians because she was said to have heard music in her heart during her marriage, and therefore, is often seen with an organ or organ pipes in art. Upon the exhumation of her body in the sixteenth century, she was the first saint to have been discovered incorrupt and her coffin was known to have smelled flower-like. Her feast day is Nov. 22.

Information and photo from and the National Catholic Register.