Stay awake and pray at all times...

Saturday, November 28, 2020 - 34th week of Ordinary Time - Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 21, 34-36 - Stay awake and pray at all times: so that you may stand before the Son of Man.

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22 November - Born into a noble Roman family, she dedicated her life to God at a very young age and took a vow of virginity. When she reached marriageable age, her parents chose her as their husband, Valerian, a pagan. After several days of prayer and fasting, arrives the wedding night: she reveals her secret to Valerian, and asks him to respect her virginity, as well as to convert.

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The Golden Legend of Jacques de Voragine relates the words of Saint Cecilia: "I have for lover an angel who watches over my body with extreme solicitude. If he notices the least that you touch me, being driven by a love that defiles me, he will immediately strike you, and you will lose the flower of your charming youth; but if he sees that you love me with a sincere love, he will love you as he loves me, and he will show you his glory". Valerian, overcome by the grace of God, answered him: "If you want me to believe you, let me see this angel, and if I make sure that he is truly an angel of God, I will do what you exhort me to do; but if you love another man, I will strike you both with my sword". After having made him read the Gospel according to Luke and having renounced idols, he converted. She then leads him to Pope Urban who prepares him for baptism and baptizes him at Easter.

Valerian's brother, Tiburce, is converted in his turn, and an angel announces to him that they will both come to the Lord with the palm of martyrdom. Valerian and Tiburce set about giving burials to the bodies of the martyrs whom the prefect Amalchius had killed as criminals and burned. Until the day they were denounced. In fact, at that time Christians were not wanted, but if they were denounced they were forced to deny their faith and worship the gods of the Romans. At the end of this trial, the two brothers were handed over to the custody of Maximus. He tried to save them one last time from death. Valerian told him that if he promised to believe, he himself would see their glory after their death. Then Maxime, all his family and all the executioners believed and received the baptism of Urbain who came to find them in secret. Valerian and Tiburce were beheaded, and Maxime was whipped to death. Cecile obtained permission to bury them, instead of burning them, in a tomb on the Appian Way and not in the catacombs.

Cecile felt threatened, but her faith was stronger than her fear and she continued to evangelize at home and in the gardens of Mount Palatine. Pope Urban came to celebrate the Eucharist at Cecilia's home for this group of Christians. One day she was arrested and the judge condemned her to be beheaded in public at her home. As she is beautiful and noble, the executioners ask her to change her mind. Saint Cecilia starts to sing while waiting for the executioner's axe to be blown, but after three unsuccessful attempts, the executioner lets her agonize for three days, as Roman law forbade the fourth blow.

As a virgin martyr and patron saint of musicians, Saint Cecilia was a great inspiration to painters, draftsmen and engravers from the 15th to the 19th century.