Santa Cecilia

On the way into town yesterday,
at the bottom of our hill, we ran into a several groups of mariachis singing to a statue of Santa Cecelia, who was resting on a litter, garnished in flowers, carried by two modern young women, chewing bubble gum.

Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of music,
Whose saint day is this coming Sunday, November 22.
We walked right into the beginning of a procession.

Santa Cecilia’s martyrdom and fame
Rest on the legend of her beheading, after which,
She sang and praised god for three days as she lay dying.
After many years, when her body was found,
Three fingers of one hand were outstretched
One finger on the other hand pointing,
A sign of her belief in the holy trinity.

This was all in the fourth century.
She is one of the most venerated Christian martyrs
Of ancient times as noted in the fifth century writings,
Martyrologium Hieronymianum, or Acts of the Martyrdom.
Saint Cecilia, they say,
Was a virgin from a senatorial family,
Married to a noble pagan man, Valerianus.
In the wedding chamber, she told Valerianus
That she was wed to a jealous angel who guarded her body.
She sent him off to meet Bishop (later pope) Urbanus
Who baptized him and sent him back to Cecilia.
The angel appeared to the two of them
Crowning them with lilies and roses.


Tiburcius, brother of  Valerianus,
Came to them and converted,
Upon which both brothers were condemned and martyred.
Cecilia was condemned to die by suffocation.
She was placed in a steaming hot bath for 3 days.
The hot  steam was meant to kill her.
That didn’t work so they decapitated her.
Three blows to the neck left her head hanging,
But she lived another three days,
Giving dispositions to the poor,
Dedicating her house as a church.
She was buried among the bishops
In the catacomb of Callistus.
Later, in the 800’s, there was a church built for her
In the Travestere district of Rome.
The relic of her skull resides in the Cathedral of Torcello.

CLICK ON THE photo to view the slideshow including a video of the procession

She is venerated in images
With a crown of martyrdom in her hand,
Or in the attitude of prayer,
In rich garments, representing a patroness of the pope,
Laying prostate, as if just stricken,
Or playing the organ.
More recently (say 500 years)
She is known as the patroness of church music,
With many choirs and musical organizations
Celebrating her name.

Here in San Miguel she holds the harp,
Is given a procession through the town
Preceded by rockets and fireworks,
Sung to by mariachi bands and trios
Ending in a mariachi tribute on her day,
With all eight of San Miguel’s mariachi bands
Performing in the Jardin on Sunday,
November 22 f
rom 4:30 to 10pm

If you missed it, here are the links for:
The Movie:
The Slideshow:



3 thoughts on “Santa Cecilia”

  • St. Cecelia is also considered to be the patron saint of the blind. There are several references in ancient history to the fact that she may have been blind but this isn’t exactly certain. The Latin word for blindness is caecitas which isn’t exactly “dead-on” but lends itself to this legend. Also, an archaeological exploration of the site of the area near her burial place revealed that there was a shrine to Bona Dea Restituta, a Roman goddess who healed blindness. That’s good enough for me. How about you?

  • That’s good enough for me. I had read that also, that the etymology of the name Cecilia, as you noted was blindness. I have a friend in Southern CA who is a nun and VERY into the saints. She has given me a lot of information over the years. I’ll email her and see what she has to say, I’m sure it will be interesting as she is a scholar of saints. I’ll keep you posted

  • Ooops! Pardon me…I almost forgot. Saint Cecelia is also one of only seven women other than the Blessed Virgin Mary who are mentioned in the Canon of the mass. The other six are: St.Felicitas, St. Perpetua, St. Agatha, St. Lucy, St. Agnes, and St. Anastasia. My grandmother’s name was Anastasia and we called her “Nettie” for short. In my eyes she is also a saint and I hope that she will put in a good word for me with “Papa Dios”.

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