Ask Ambrose: What about St. Cecilia?

Portrait of St. Cecilia by Jacques Blanchard

Q: Who was St. Cecilia, and why is she the patron saint of music? She seems important, and yet she’s not on our Episcopal calendar of saints. Why is that?

A: Ambrose can’t be certain about this, but it may have something to do with the influence of Rationalism in devising the first Episcopal Church calendar of feasts and lesser feast days. Moreover, it is difficult, historically, to certify Cecilia’s martyrdom and eventual association with music. Interestingly, Cecilia has been retained on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and she was added as a trial provision to the Episcopal Church’s last official edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 2006. But because Lesser Feasts and Fasts (2006) still remains the official liturgical calendar of lesser feasts and fasts, and because honoring Cecilia was only a “trial provision” of that resource, St. Cecilia is not the official observance for November 22. Rather, that observance is devoted to C.S. Lewis. For more information on St. Cecilia, visit this link.