Today is the feast of Santa Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. Every year, here in Umbertide, she is celebrated in the dark of night with the city band playing in the streets. I woke last night at 3:54am to the sound of music. I went to the window and a saw below, the musicians riding through our centro on the flat bed of a truck. I love this tradition. Here is her history.
St. Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs. Her feast day has been celebrated since about the fourth century. She was a noble lady of Rome who suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus.
According to the story, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that watching over her was an angel of the Lord, who would punish him if he sexually violated her but would love him if he respected her virginity. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he could if he would go to the third milestone on the Via Appia and be baptized by Pope Urban I. After following Cecilia’s advice, he saw the angel standing beside her, crowning her with a chaplet of roses and lilies.
The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.
Cecilia was buried in the Catacomb of Callixtus, and later transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
These are the things that brought me here, keep me here, and endlessly entertain me. 💕