Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: November
A Roman maiden of noble family, devoted to prayer, she was given in
marriage against her will to a pagan youth named Valerian. On the
wedding day 'while the pipes (organs) were praying' for the festivities,
'she sang in her heart' to Christ, praying that her virginity might be
A misunderstanding of these words as meaning that she sang to the
accompaniment of an organ has made Cecilia the patroness of music. Alone
with her husband in the bride-chamber she informed him that an angel was
keeping guard over her, and, if he attempted to consummate the marriage,
he would experience God's punishment. If he respected her maidenhood he
would be rewarded by divine grace. Valerian asked to see the angel which
alone would convince him. He could see the angel, she told him, only if
he were instructed and baptized, for which she sent him to Pope Urban.
On his return he saw the angel offering Cecilia and himself floral
crowns. They converted her brother-in-law Tiburtius who was also
baptized by Urban. The brothers were condemned to death for their faith
by the prefect Almachius. They converted the soldier on guard, his
family and the executioner, who were all baptized by night by priests
brought by Cecilia. Next day all were beheaded. Almachius proceeded to
arrest Cecilia, whose eloquence converted more than four hundred. He
ordered her to be taken back to her house in the Trastevere, now St.
Cecilia's Church, and burned in her bathroom. When the attempt failed he
sent a soldier to behead her. After three blows he failed to decapitate
her, but left her mortally wounded. At her prayer, death was delayed
three days to give her time to have her house consecrated as a church.
The date of her death is unknown. Her body is alleged to have been
concealed from the Lombard invader Aistulf in 756, discovered in
consequence of a dream by Pope Paschal I, 817-824, who enshrined it
where it is now venerated, in her titular church. The latter statements
rest on contemporary evidence.