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St. Cecilia's monastery and church in Rome

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 18th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Visitors to St. Cecilia in Trastevere, a Benedictine monastery in Rome, Italy will have the opportunity to see some of the most ornate mosaics and beautiful polished marble in the region as well as tour the crypts where early Christians were buried.

ROME, ITALY (Catholic Online) - The monastery and church are dedicated to St. Cecilia who was believed martyred in the third century A.D.

Cecilia is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church. She was born into a noble family and took a vow of virginity. Despite being aware of her vow, her pagan parents married her off. On her wedding night, Cecilia informed her husband of her vow and convinced him along with his brother to be baptized. Sicilia and her new family immediately began giving alms to the poor and preaching the faith.

Eventually persecuted for their beliefs, Cecilia buried her husband and brother-in-law before she was herself martyred. According to legend, she was first persecuted by being placed in a brothel where it is said that her hair miraculously grew to cover her body. Patrons were so terrified, that she remained untouched.

Later, Cecilia was placed into a steam room within her own residence, in the hopes she would suffocate. She survived this ordeal for several days. Finally, a soldier was sent to behead her. After three swings he had succeeded only in wounding her, but he could not kill her. Eventually left alone, she died three days later, presumably from her injuries. Years later when her body was exhumed for examination, it is said that it was found incorrupt and that she had raised three fingers on one hand and a single on the other presumably a sign for the holy Trinity. 

It's believed that the site on which the monastery now stands was first used as a house of worship for Christians as early as the second century A.D. By the fifth century, the residents had been converted into a proper church.

The church that now occupies the former site of St. Cecilia's house was built in the ninth century. Cecilia's body along with those of her husband and his brother are enshrined there today. The church has been renovated and improved throughout the centuries.

Artwork throughout the church spans the centuries. Early mosaics, centuries-old statuary, and an 18th-century fašade can be enjoyed by visitors.

The statue of St. Sicilia is a gathering point for tourists and it shows her body in the position that it was said to be in when exhumed.

Visitors to the site are permitted to tour the church and to view the artwork and excavations throughout. Some of the artwork and excavations require a small fee before viewing, the fee is used to support the monastery. The church also holds regular services and all are welcome to attend.


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