The Holy Martyress Cecelia (Cesilia) and the Holy Martyrs Valerian, Tiburtius and Maximus
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.
The governor 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 (+ 230).
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.