Oh St. Cecilia, I’m down on my knees, I’m begging you please to forgive me for leaving you out of my November saints roundup. Though it’s hardly my fault. The calendar I was using forgot you, too, and had to wedge you into the gap between Clement and Edmund. Like so:
November 22 is/was the Feast of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and musicians. Chaucer’s second nun was quite fond of her, but if your Chaucer prof was feeling short on time that tale probably got cut from the syllabus.*
According to her legend, Cecilia was a pious, virginal Roman convert to Christianity. Though beautiful, she remained a virgin throughout her short life, which sounds impressive until you learn that she also had an invisible flaming-winged guardian angel who would slay anyone who tried to touch her in an unclean manner. And so after telling her betrothed, Valerian, about the angel she convinced him to convert to Christianity, too, and to live with her in Christian chastity. In some accounts, there was heavenly music at her wedding that only the faithful could hear.
Eventually, the Roman authorities heard about the miracles that attended Cecilia’s piety and those she was converting through her preaching and example and sentenced her to death by being boiled in a bath. When after a whole night she was miraculously unboiled, the Romans instead sent an executioner to behead her. The axeman struck her three times, but was unable to fully sever her head.** She bled from the neck for three days, preaching and singing throughout, until she finally died.
*On account of it being boring, boring, boring.
**When reached for comment, Cecilia’s guardian angel reportedly said, “Look, I’m a virginity-guarding guardian angel. If it’s above the waist, it’s someone else’s problem. Sure, I’ll block two axe blows, but any more and the flaming-winged angel union’ll be all over me.”