Saint Cecilia |
Everyone who is interested in church organ music will discover sooner or later Saint Caecilia (Cecilia, Caecilie), whose name day was set to 22 November: She is considered as the patroness of the church music and in particular the organ play.
Already since the 4th century she has been mentioned in the canon of the holy service; which proves that already in the early Christianity she could enjoy large admiration. Only little is held about this virgin martyr in the documents. The sentence "While the music instruments sounded" - on the occasion of her wedding celebration - "Cecilia asked the Lord, he may keep her heart and body unsullied." probably was taken too literally. The church music owes its beautiful patroness to this translation mistake. Often she is portrayed with a portable small organ or other music instruments. Probably no patroness came to function more innocently than Cecilia. Just because she paid no attention to the music, turned her thoughts away from it, thought of something higher, let not seduce herself by their charms, she became their patron saint.
Cecilia descended from the illustrious Roman dynasty of the Meteller or Caecilier and suffered about 230 AD at the age of approximately 30 years her virgin death for Christ. Already early educated as Christian in her great love to the Lord she pledged to him eternal virginity. When a noble young man courted for her, her parents, who did not know anything from her decision, promised him that she will become his wife. Cecilia told her bridegroom on the wedding day that she was Christian and had taken a vow of virginity. Her bridegroom Valerian became converted by her and adopted together with his brother Tiburtius Christianity. But because the two young men praised themselves in noble enthusiasm death-courageously in the public of their Christianity, they were arrested and executed.
When their goods should be confiscated, Cecilia already had distributed everything to the poor. Infuriated about this, the prefect forgot what distinguished and respected families Cecilia descended from and let her come to him. The judge was astonished about the firmness and fearlessness of her answers. Because the virgin resisted his demand to sacrifice the pagan Gods, also she was sentenced to death. In her villa she should be suffocated by hot steams in the bath. Miraculously she survived however totally unhurt. Now they called the executioner. The executioner did three blows; hit her however only with the last one. But he was not able to cut her head from the body and left her lay in her blood. The Saint lived still three days. Since she could not talk any longer, she asked the Christians that had hurried to her by making signs with her hands to distribute everything that still possessed to the poor. That happened under the government of the emperor Marc Aurel.
Her mortal remains were buried by the Christians in the catacombs. In the 5th century her body was transferred into the Cecilia Church that was build in honors to her in Trastevere right over the house, where she had suffered her martyrdom - it was probably the house of its husband Valerian. Pope Paschalis I (817 - 824) let renew the church. When in 1599 because of a restoration of the church the bricked grave of Cecilia was opened they found the incorruptible body of the virgin laying on the right side, wrapped into a long garb from gold brocade. In her neck gaped a deep wound, the garb as stained with blood and to her feet lay linen sheets soaked with blood-soaked. Just like she was found the sculptor Maderno shaped the sleeping looking body of the Saint in marble. This statue was set into an open niche of the high altar. Beside the church until today the Caldarium of the ancient thermal spring structure is shown, where Saint Cecilia was locked up, to die of suffocation, and this is also the place, where she was finally killed by the executioner.
Even when the Saint was selected rather coincidentally for the patroness of the church music, she nevertheless enriched the same: In 17th and 18th century it became custom, to celebrate her name day with great special compositions. Among the composers, that dedicated works to her were Henry Purcell, John Blow, Jeremiah Clarke, Matthew Greene, Daniel Purcell and George Frideric Handel (Alexander' s Feast or the power of Music. An Ode Wrote in Honour of St. Cecilia and Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, texts by John Dryden). In the German-speaking area for example composer George Valentin Roeder (1780-1848) made the work Caecilia oder Die Feier der Tonkunst (Cecilia or the celebration of the tone art). Also Benjamin Britten followed this tradition with the Hymn ton of St. Cecilia (text by W.H. Auden).
With so much popularity it can be assumed that also the beautiful organist with the halo at the balustrade of the Batzenhofen parish church represents Saint Cecilia. Angels serve the bellows and listen to her melody, which rises to heaven in the honor of God.
Text following Melchers Hausbuch der Heiligen und Namenspatrone (Melchers house book of the saints and patron saints) and Wikipedia