Saint Cecilia


By Dom Prosper Guéranger - PB - 404 pages

In the nineteenth century there was a concerted effort on the part of liberal revisionists to undermine the Church’s history by challenging the veracity of the Acts of the Martyrs. Some miraculous events associated with the lives of very popular saints, whose names were canonized in the Roman Missal, were treated with ridicule by scholars more concerned with documents than the living evidence of common tradition.
It was righteous indignation that moved Abbot Dom Guéranger to defend the cause of Saint Cecilia, whose holy celebrity had spanned fifteen centuries. The abbot’s strategy was to validate the traditional accounts of all the martyrs’ lives by exonerating just one. He achieved this in the holy virgin Cecilia’s case by presenting in book form every morsel of factual evidence available, especially that which modern archeological excavations offered. As a result of his labor, there arose a refreshing new devotion to the young martyr, and – at least for a time — the cynical scoffs of the proud were silenced. This particular biography was written in response to the request of his co-reformer and friend, the Benedictine Abbess Cécile Bruyère.

Prospér Louis Pascal Guéranger was born in France, in 1805, at Sablé-sur-Sarthe. In the Napoleonic era, 1827, during the continued anti-clerical aftermath of the French Revolution, he was ordained a parish priest. As a young curé he authored several works on church-state relations. In 1836, having purchased an abandoned priory that was for sale in Solesmes, he and five other parish priests took solemn vows as Benedictines, with the intention of restoring the monastic life in France according to the ancient rule of Saint Benedict. Until his death there in 1875, Abbot Dom Guéranger devoted himself to restoring the cenobitical life as originally cultured thirteen centuries earlier by the father of western monasticism. He did much by his writings and prayers to keep the church in France loyal to the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and away from the dangers of both Gallicanism and Jansenism.

Chapter One
Alexander Severus. His education. Tendency to Christianity. Defects of character. 1
Chapter Two
Dispositions of the Magistrates of the Empire with regard to Christianity. Ulpian. Unceasing trials imminent for the Christians of Rome. 7
Chapter Three
Martyrs under Alexander Severus. Situation and solicitude of Pope St. Urban. Progress of Christianity in Rome. 13
Chapter Four
St. Cecilia. Family of the Cecilii. The Appian Way in the third century. 21
Chapter Five
House in which Cecilia passed her youth. She consecrates her virginity to God. Her parents promise her in marriage. Valerian and Tiburtius. 43
Chapter Six
Anxiety of St. Cecilia at her approaching union with Valerian. Celebration of the marriage. Confidence reposed in Valerian by St. Cecilia. 49
Chapter Seven
Valerian repairs to Pope St. Urban. He is baptized. His return. Arrival of Tiburtius. 59
Chapter Eight
Interview of Tiburtius with St. Cecilia and Valerian. His conversion and baptism. 67
Chapter Nine
Alexander Severus leaves Rome. Violence exercised against the Christians. Valerian and Tiburtius are summoned before the prefect of Rome. Interrogatory of Tiburtius. 81
Chapter Ten
Interrogatory of Valerian. The two brothers are condemned to death. 87
Chapter Eleven
Conversion of Maximus, notary of Almachius. Cecilia’s interview with her husband and brother. Martyrdom of Sts. Valerian and Tiburtius. 95
Chapter Twelve
Martyrdom of St. Maximus. Almachius sends for Cecilia and urges her to sacrifice to the idols. She refuses and converts the envoys of the prefect. The virgin appears before the tribunal of Almachius. 103
Chapter Thirteen
Interrogatory of St. Cecilia. 111
Chapter Fourteen
Martyrdom of St. Cecilia. 119
Chapter Fifteen
Martyrdom of St. Urban. Pontificate of St. Pontianus. Death of Alexander Severus. 127
Chapter Sixteen
Zeal of the Roman pontiffs in collecting the Acts of the Martyrs. The memory of St. Cecilia preserved in the Church of Rome. Her Basilica. 135
Chapter Seventeen
Compilation of the Acts of St. Cecilia, in the 5th century, in their present form. Motives of this compilation. Canon of Pope St. Gelasius upon the use of the Acts of the Martyrs. 145
Chapter Eighteen
Testimony of the Liturgies of the West in favor of the Acts of St. Cecilia 153
Chapter Nineteen
The Appian Way from the fourth century to the ninth. 165
Chapter Twenty
Events relating to St. Cecilia and her church throughout the seventh century. 175
Chapter Twenty-One
Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the seventh and eighth centuries. In the seventh, the bodies of the martyrs are disinterred and translated to the churches of Rome. 187
Chapter Twenty-Two
Discovery of Cecilia’s body by Pope St. Paschal 197
Chapter Twenty-Three
Translation of the bodies of Sts. Cecilia, Valerian, Tiburtius, Maximus, Urban, and Lucius. St. Paschal’s munificence towards the basilica of St. Cecilia 207
Chapter Twenty-Four
Confirmation of the Acts of St. Cecilia by the circumstances attending the discovery of her body. Digression upon the relics of St. Cecilia. 219
Chapter Twenty-Five
Events relating to Cecilia and her Basilica throughout the course of the ninth and tench centuries. Homage rendered to Cecilia in the Greek Liturgy. 227
Chapter Twenty-Six
Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. Veneration paid to the Roman virgin in France. 233
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Homage paid by literature and the arts to the Roman virgin. 245
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Cardinal Paul Emilius Sfondrato. His devotion to St. Cecilia.His discovery of her body. 261
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Sfondrato acquaints Clement VIII with the discovery of Cecilia’s body. Joy of the Pontiff. Baronius comes to identify the holy relics. 273
Chapter Thirty
Sfondrato’s preparations for the translation of Cecilia’s body. Veneration of Clement VIII for the Roman Virgin. 281
Chapter Thirty-One
Transation of Cecilia’s body by Clement VIII. 291
Chapter Thirty-Two
Confirmation of the Acts of St. Cecilia by the circumstances attending the second discovery of her body. 297
Chapter Thirty-Three
Sfondrato discovers the body of St. Agnes. His piety towards the mother of God and the saints. His will and death. His epitaph in the basilica of St. Cecilia. 303
Chapter Thirty-Four
Facts relating to St. Cecilia and her basilica throughout the seventeenth century. The Jansenistic school attacks the acts of the holy martyr. 319
Chapter Thirty-Five
Examination and refutation of the arguments of the Jansenists against the Acts of St. Cecilia. 333
Chapter Thirty-Six
Continuation of the same subject. 347
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the eighteenth century. 357
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Events relating to St. Cecilia and her basilica throughout the nineteenth century. 383
Appendix 395