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The Holy Martyrs Cecilia, Valerian & Tibertius

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#1 Graves


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Posted 05 December 2009 - 07:45 PM

November 22
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Tomb of St. Cecilia in Rome
The Holy Martyr Cecilia [with Valerian and Tibertius]

Cecilia was born in Rome of wealthy and eminent parents. She had great faith in Christ the Lord and a great zeal for the Faith. Vowing life-long virginity to God, St. Cecilia wore a coarse hair shirt beneath the costly raiment that her parents gave her. When her parents coerced her into marriage with Valerian, a pagan, Cecilia counseled her bridegroom on their wedding night to go to Bishop Urban to be baptized, and then live in chastity. Accepting the Christian Faith, Valerian also converted his brother Tiburtius. Soon after, both brothers were condemned to death for their faith. But their faithfulness did not falter, even in the face of death. Led to the place of execution, these wonderful brothers also succeeded in converting the captain of the guard, Maximus, to the Faith. Then all three suffered together for Christ the Lord. St. Cecilia buried their bodies together. Cecilia was then brought to trial, for she tirelessly won pagans over to the Christian Faith. In only one evening, she won over four hundred souls. When the judge asked her from whence such boldness came, she answered: ``From a pure conscience and undoubting faith.'' After cruel torture, Cecilia was condemned to beheading. The executioner struck her three times on the neck with the sword, but he was unable to kill her. She was only wounded, and blood flowed from her wounds, which the faithful collected in handkerchiefs, sponges and bowls for the sake of healing. Three days after this, the martyr and virgin of Christ gave her soul to her Lord, with Whom she eternally rejoices. St. Cecilia suffered with the others in about the year 230. Her relics lie in Rome, in the church dedicated to her. In the Western Church, St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of church singing and music.

Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid

It was believed that St. Cecilia was buried in the Catacomb of Callistus after she was martyred in 177 A.D. Seven centuries later, Pope Pascal I (817-824) built the Church of St. Cecilia in the Trastevere quarter of Rome and wished to transfer her relics there. At first, however, he could not find them and believed that they had been stolen. In a vision he saw St. Cecilia, who exhorted him to continue his search, as he had already been very near to her grave. He therefore renewed his quest; and soon the body of the martyr, draped in expensive gold brocade and with the cloths soaked in her blood at her feet, was actually found in the Catacomb of Pr?textatus instead. Her relics, with those of Valerian (her husband), Tiburtius, and Maximus (a Rome officer), and Popes Urbanus and Lucius, were taken up by Pope Paschal I, and reburied under the high altar of St. Cecilia in Trastevere.

The next time anyone disturbed Cecilia's sleep was almost 800 years later. During the restoration of the church in the year 1599, Cardinal Sfondrato was involved in restoring the church and had initiated some excavations under the main altar, in the hope of finding the bodies of Cecilia and her male martyrs interred there by Paschal. On October 20, 1599, Sfondrato's workmen brought to light the marble coffin of the saint. In the presence of several witnesses, the cardinal himself opened the little cypress-wood inner coffin, revealing the saint's body still wrapped finding it still clothed in tissue of gold, lying modestly on its side, the neck wound covered with a golden amulet.

Pope Clement commissioned an elaborate silver coffin adorned with gold to contain Cecilia's cypress-wood coffin and a still larger marble one to hold them. Out of the respect for the saint, he refused to allow a more detailed examination of the martyr's remains.

The reappearance of the relics of St. Cecilia created a sensation in Rome. The enthusiasm of the crowds that thronged the basilica was so great that Cardinal Sfondrato was almost crushed to death. Pope Clement finally had to send in his Swiss Guards to restore order. On November 22, 1599, Clement came to the basilica to celebrate a Solemn High Mass in honor of the saint's feast-day. After the Mass Cecilia's body was re-interred beneath the high altar, in the same place where it had been found.

When the tomb of the saint opened in 1599, Stefano Maderno(1566-1636), who created the fountains in St Peter's Piazza, was then commissioned to sculpt what he saw. His inscription says: "Behold the body of the most holy virgin, Cecilia, whom I myself saw lying uncorrupt in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture and body." She is shown lying on her right side with her head facing downwards and with a scarf over her hair. Both her arms are extended towards her knees and the fingers of the right hand are also extended. The body was found in the position represented by the sculptor.

Extract from The Story of Saint Cecilia
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian..../26/29234.html
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