How St. Cecilia Brightens November With Her Example of Faith and Music

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"How St. Cecilia brightens November" by Tiffany Walsh (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Flickr.com (2018), CC BY 2.0

Every fall, I eagerly anticipate the feast of St. Cecilia on November 22. St. Cecilia has a lot of personal significance to me, as she is my confirmation patron. Quick anecdote to go along with this little fact: I am a cradle Catholic, and let’s just say that I was not at the most mature point in my faith when I was confirmed,so I chose Cecilia because I liked her name. I don’t dislike my given name, but I have never loved its modern nature. If it were up to me, my name would be Jane, or Mary, or Teresa. Something more timeless and classic. Instead, I am left defending the way Tiffany is originally derived from the ancient name Epiphana, so I do what I can!

Thus, I thought the name Cecilia was feminine and beautiful, and that is why I chose it. Years later, when my faith meant more to me, I researched Cecilia and found her story very intriguing. I loved reading about how brave she was, how dedicated to her faith, and why she is the patron saint of music. I also think that she had a hand in my adult faith formation, as I wrote about previously. Her late November/just prior to Advent feast day always seems to be significant in terms of faith developments for me. Let’s delve into her story briefly.

St. Cecilia is a traditional and important saint on the calendar, being one of the few mentioned in the official Canon of the Mass during Eucharistic Prayer I. She lived in the third century and wished to remain unmarried in the service of her faith. She was betrothed against her will to a non-Christian man named Valerian. Cecilia prayed that this man be converted.

According to tradition, Valerian saw a vision of an angel praying beside Cecilia, and indeed, subsequently converted and was baptized, along with his brother. Both men were later killed for their faith after being discovered giving proper burial to martyred Christians. When Cecilia saw to their own proper burial on her property, she was arrested. She was ordered to sacrifice to false gods and refused. For this, she too was martyred. Her tomb was exhumed in 1599, and her body found to be incorrupt.

Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, because a passage invoking “a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse” is attributed to her. In iconography, she is always shown carrying or playing a musical instrument.

Just last week, my 7-year-old daughter told me, out of the blue, that St. Cecilia is *her* saint. I was surprised, and asked her why. She said they had to choose a saint at school, and that she chose St. Cecilia “because she’s the music saint, Mom!” I should not have been surprised that my daughter discovered St. Cecilia, because this saint has journeyed with me my entire life! It brought her presence in my life around in a beautiful circle.

Do you have a devotion to St. Cecilia, or another November saint? 


Copyright 2018 Tiffany Walsh 

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About Author

Tiffany is a wife and mother to two precious children, a native Western New Yorker, and an academic librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student in New York City via her love of books and discovery of daily Mass. She enjoys using humor in her writing, and blogs about faith, books, and everything in-between over at lifeofacatholiclibrarian.com.

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