Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saint Cecilia: Virgin and Model Wife?

St Cecilia (Poussin) -24x30

Today is the Feast of Saint Cecilia.  Several years ago, I chose her as my confirmation Saint, although I am loathe to admit that I chose her somewhat arbitrarily.  My grandmother’s name is Cecilia, and for that reason, she inherited from her parents a beautiful painting that hung in her bedroom of the Saint at a piano, surrounded by angels.  I haven’t seen the painting in years, but I assume that it probably is not as beautiful as I remember.  The beauty came not from the skill of the artist, but from the holiness and serenity that emanated from the painting.  When I chose my confirmation Saint, I did so in part because I knew that it would please my grandmother and in part because I was running out of time to choose and Saint Cecilia was one of the only female Saints I knew by name, but I also like to think that I did so with the image of that painting somewhere in the mind.

Until recently, I did not know much about the life and martyrdom of Saint Cecilia, and perhaps if I had done more research into the Saints before I had chosen one, I would have picked someone else.  As a sophomore in high school, I probably wouldn’t have related well with a third-century virgin martyr.  Yet, as I look at her life from my current situation, she gives me much inspiration and courage as I look to deepen my relationship with Christ.  While she was canonized as a virgin martyr, Saint Cecilia was in fact married.  When they married, her husband Valerian was a pagan, but through the prayers and persuasion of his wife, he and his brother were both baptized and dedicated their lives to aiding other Christians, specifically by burying the bodies of Christian martyrs, before they became martyrs themselves.  What a model of Christian wifehood!  Although I was called not to maintain my virginity but instead to motherhood within my marriage, I too am called to pray for my husband and to take a strong role in maintaining the holiness of my family and my home.  Is there anything a man cannot do with a strong, faithful woman at his side? 

While my own husband is a devout Catholic and perhaps does more to guide me spiritually than I do him, I call upon Saint Cecilia often to pray for those women (and men) whose spouses are not Christian or who do not practice their faith.  I myself come from a mixed-faith family.  My mother was raised Catholic by her Catholic mother and Jewish father (my grandfather finally converted last December after a lifetime of loving the Church from the outside!), and my brother and I were raised Catholic by her and my unpracticing Baptist father.  I know that there are often difficulties that come from a mixed-faith marriage and I pray often for my parents in this respect.  If you have a spouse who does not share your faith or if you know someone in that situation, take strength from Saint Cecilia’s example and pray:

Beloved Jesus, Saint Cecilia’s parents wed her to a pagan nobleman.  Eager to convert her new husband, she told him about the angel that always escorted her.  He wanted to see the angel too, so he asked for his soul to be purified by baptism.  The next time Saint Cecilia prayed, her husband saw the angel place a crown on both of their heads.  I ask her and my guardian angel to pray for the unconverted spouses in my family and circles of friends, and for the spouses who believe in You but are slow in spiritual growth.  Lord, in Your perfect timing, help them to open up to Your friendship and purification.  Saint Cecilia, pray for us.  Amen.


  1. It's ironic how our confirmation saint ends up meaning more later than at the time. I chose Felicity because I thought the name was pretty (and, though I never would have admitted it then, because I loved the tv show Felicity). Since she is the saint of barren women and fertility will be an issue for me, I couldn't have chosen better, even though I had no clue at the time!

  2. St. Cecilia is my confirmation saint, too! I chose her because she is the patroness of musicians, and I play piano.
    I knew a bit about her story and martyrdom, but I never much thought before about praying for her intercession for spouses who do not share the faith. Thank you for sharing this! I will be asking her intercession for my husband.

  3. The last few years I have helped with confirmation prep at my church and a TON of kids would pick St. Cecilia! (At least 5). Like Louise said she is the patron saint of musicians so many of the band and choir students would pick her since they were musically inclined.

    I picked my confirmation saint for similar reasons you did. I picked St. Therese of Lisieux(the little flower). I didn't really understand/know much about her then but I knew that my dad LOVED her and I thought it would have been a good way to honor him (as he had passed away when I was 8).

    I also secretly picked it like buttercup said bc I liked the name Teresa. At one point I didn't even care what the saints did I just read through lists of names and wanted a "cool name" bc at the time I was a angst teen and hated the name my parents gave me.

  4. I didn't realize St. Cecilia was married to a pagan. My husband is not Catholic and so I am always interested in those Saints who can inspire me in my situation. Thank you for your informative post and the lovely prayer. :)

  5. I definitely do agree that our Saint picks us more than we pick him/her - even when we think we are picking them based on how cool the name is, etc. I actually remember thinking I didn't want to pick Cecilia because it was an ugly name...now I think it's beautiful and was one my husband and I strong considered if we have a girl!

    Louise, I actually thought of you while I was writing this! Glad the connection was meaningful to you too!

  6. I didn't know much about St. Cecilia before reading this post (what a lovely prayer you included, by the way). I chose St. Anne as my confirmation saint, because she is the patron saint of mothers and I had always felt called to be a mother one day. Also, my middle name is Jo, and "Jo Anne" sounds so nice together. Even if we don't have 100% great reasons for choosing our confirmation saints, it seems that God helps us to pick the right one for ourselves.

  7. I added you to my reader a few days ago. And I'm just now reading said feeds from a few days ago.
    I'm a slacker.
    I was scrolling down the reader to the end (this was the very last post thank GOD!) and I of course stumble upon this post. I did a double take.
    You and I have two things in common off the bat: 1. St. Cecilia is MY confirmation saint name and 2. I picked her because of MY grandmother too.

    Freaky. :)

    Just had to say that...


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