This patroness of music lived in early times. What we know about her goes back to the fourth century. Cecilia was a Roman noblewoman who had given her heart to Christ. Beneath the rich clothes worn by women of her class, Cecilia wore a rough shirt that caused her suffering. She wanted to be able to offer this sacrifice to Jesus, whose bride she intended to be. But Cecilia's father gave her in marriage to a young pagan noble. It is said that during the wedding celebration, the lovely bride sat apart. She was singing to God in her heart and praying for his help. When she and Valerian, her husband, were alone, she gathered up courage and said to him: "I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you let me keep my promise to be Christ's bride only, my angel will love you as he loves me."
Valerian was surprised and said kindly, "Show me this angel. If he comes from God, I will do as you wish."
Cecilia said, "If you believe in the one true God and receive the waters of Baptism, then you will see my angel." Valerian went to Bishop Urban and was received with joy. After he had professed his belief in the Christian religion, he was baptized and returned to St. Cecilia. There by the saint's side, the young man saw the splendid angel.
Valerian's brother, Tiburtius, learned of the Christian faith from Cecilia. She spoke so beautifully of Jesus that before long, he too was baptized. Together the two brothers performed many works of charity. When they were arrested for being Christians, they went bravely to death rather than give up their new faith in Jesus. St. Cecilia lovingly buried their bodies, before she too was arrested. She converted the very officers who tried to make her sacrifice to false gods. When she was put into a fire, it did not harm her. At last, a man was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, but Cecilia did not die right away. She lay on the floor of her own home unable to move. Yet by holding out three fingers of one hand, and one of the other, she still professed her belief in the Blessed Trinity.
On this feast of the patroness of music, let us consider the words of St. Augustine: "Words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart….And if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, people discard the restricting syllables. They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation."