Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome

The first church built here, in Rome, on this site was most probably built in the 3rd century and was devoted to St Cecilia, a Roman martyr. The church was constructed over the original house belonging to the saint and her husband Valerius. The remains of a Roman house were found during excavations under the Chapel of Relics. In 822 Pope Paschal I rebuilt the church and moved the remains of St Cecilia from the catacombes of St Calixtus to the new church. The present-day basilica church is a result of re-building in the 18th century. When St Cecilia’s body was moved it was discovered that it was completely intact, the sculptor Stefano Maderno witnessed this and his wonderful statue at the front of the sanctuary, is exactly as she was found in the 9th century. There is an inscription by the sculptor testifying to this. St Cecilia was a noblewoman living in the 3rd century. She decided to dedicate her life to God and took a personal vow of chastity. Her parents married her off but, on her wedding night, she persuaded her new husband to convert to Christianity. Valerius and his brother Tibertius and a friend Maximus, were all baptised and formed a ministry giving alms to the poor. They also made arrangements to give proper funerals to martyrs, they themselves also became martyrs, and later Cecilia, too was martyred.

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