Commemorated on November 22
The Holy Martyress
Cecelia (Cesilia) and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus: The
holy Martyress Cecelia was a Roman of rich and noted lineage. From her youth
she was raised in the Christian faith and she prayed fervently, she helped
those in need, and beneathe her fine clothing she wore an hairshirt. Her
parents decided to give her in marriage to the illustrious pagan Valerian. The
saint did not dare oppose the will of her parents, but with tears she prayed to
God, that her betrothed would believe in Christ, and that she would preserve
her virginity. The saint persuaded her fiance to go with her to bishop Urban,
hiding away from the persecution in a cave along the Appian Way. The
instructions of the wise elder permeated the soul of Valerian, and both he and
his brother Tiburtius believed in Christ and were converted to Christianity.
The brothers distributed part of their inheritance to the poor, cared for the
sick, and buried Christians tortured to death by the persecutors.
Ammachus, having learned of this, gave orders to arrest the brothers and bring
them to trial. He demanded that the saints renounce Christ and offer sacrifice
to the pagan gods. The brothers refused. Then they mercilessly began to scourge
the brothers. Saint Valerian under torture urged Christians not to be afraid of
torments, but rather stand firm for Christ.
The governor, wanting
to prevent the holy preacher from influencing the people, gave orders to take
the martyrs beyond the city limits and there execute them. The detachment of
soldiers accompanying the martyrs to execution was commanded by Maximus. He was
amazed at the courage of the saints. He asked them why they did not fear death.
The holy brothers answered, that they were relinquishing temporal life for life
eternal. Maximus wanted to learn in detail the teaching of Christians. He took
Saints Valerian and Tiburtius to his own house and all night engaged them in
conversation. Having learned of this, Saint Cecelia went with a priest to
Maximus, and he with all his family accepted holy Baptism.
On the following day
when they beheaded the Martyrs Valerian and Tiburtius, Saint Maximus confessed
before everyone that he saw how their holy souls had gone up to Heaven. For
this confession the holy Martyr Maximus was scourged to death with whips (+
The governor wanted
to confiscate the property of the executed, but having learned that Saint
Cecelia had already distributed all her remaining wealth to the poor and by her
preaching had converted 400 men, he gave orders to execute her. For three days
they tormented her with fire and smoke in a red-hot bath-house, but the grace
of God succoured her. Then they decided to behead her. The executioner struck
the saint with a sword, but only wounded her. The holy martyress suffered yet
three more days in full consciousness, encouraging in the faith those around
her, and died with prayer on her lips.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.