Welcome! This blog celebrates both the local and the catholic -- that is, universal -- aspects of the Roman Catholic Church by sharing reflections on experiences of the Church in a variety of settings and cultures. Postings will come from around the world and around the corner. You don't have to be a Catholic to come along.

Monday, November 22, 2010

St. Cecilia

Today, Nov. 22, in addition to being the anniversary of the deaths of both C.S. Lewis and President John F. Kennedy 47 years ago, is the Feast of St. Cecilia.

She is best known as the patron saint of music. For this reason, the internet reports that the 1970 Simon and Garfunkel song "Cecilia" is really a metaphor about the frustrations of a composer deserted by his Muse, personified by the saint. Whether that's true or not, it is true that Paul Simon's later song "The Coast" makes reference to "the little harbor church of St. Cecilia."

Wherever that church might be, it is certainly not the Roman basilica St. Cecilia in Trastevere that we visited a few weeks ago. We took part in the Sunday vigil Mass there, happily noting that this was a not a museum but an active parish -- there were flowers in the church left over from a wedding.

In my travel diary I noted that the two outstanding features of the church were a magnificent marble altarpiece with a statue of the saint in death (above) and a crypt that had been an early Christian burial vault.

We spent quite a bit of time in the vault after Mass. It was clear that we were amid the ruins of what had once been the home of a wealthy Roman. Only later did we learn that Roman was St. Cecilia herself, beheaded in her home in 230 A.D. A church was erected over the home in the 4th or 5th Century, and rebuilt in the 9th Century.

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