When we think of the time we are living in, we need to think of how many classes of people are affected by the present pandemic. Of course, as you can imagine artists and musicians are one of the most affected. We cannot hold concerts, organize events, gather for choirs or any kind of music groups. It is a very difficult time because it is not possible to work and many people maintain their families, partners and children through the money they earn through their artistic careers. So it is a very troubled time.
The feast of Saint Cecilia that we celebrate on November 22 this year is a very special occasion. As we know, Saint Cecilia is the patroness of musicians, and in the antiphon that is sung for her liturgical feast, the following is said: “Cantantibus organis, Caecilia Domino decantabat dicens: Fiat cor meum immaculatum, ut non confundar” (“At the sound of music playing, Cecilia sang to the Lord saying: let my heart be immaculate, so that I will not be confused”).
This martyr from the 3rd century is popular among musicians and artists who have a great devotion to her, having been painted by many great painters. The house of Cecilia is now a Basilica dedicated in her name, it still remains the house of Cecilia for all those that want to visit her and pray in front of her, represented by the beautiful statue made by Stefano Maderno. In the website of the Benedictine nuns who were in charge of this Basilica for many centuries, it is said: “After Cecilia’s death, her body was transported to the Callisto cemetery where it remained until the 9th century, when Pope Paschal brought it back to his home to build a basilica. The house had already become a place of worship; and a 4th century baptistery attests to the presence of the Christian community in this place, which is one of the oldest Roman tituli. Together with the basilica, Pope Paschal also wanted a monastery to be built and since then the monastic presence remains until today.”
It was tradition that every year the Sistine chapel Choir, sung at the mass on the feast of Saint Cecilia in the Basilica, and the member of treble choir take their oath on that day, pledging their loyalty and their desire to achieve the best artistic results honoring the Lord with their voices and with their hearts. I am not sure what will happen this year, given the present situation, but I am quite sure that musicians all over the world will pray in their hearts, imploring God, through the intercession of Saint Cecilia, asking for relief in the present difficulties and an end to this time of deep trouble. (Image: Saint Cecilia in a window in the church of St Mary The Virgin, in Little Wymondley, Hertfordshire, Wikimedia Commons)