What a horrid rainy day it was today. Not just in South Kensington but it also didn’t stop in Farnham. The rain was so bad that Embankment Station flooded on my way home.

At lunchtime, I was tempted to stay in the Science Museum but it was way too crowded to be even remotely pleasant so I braved the drops and headed across to the V&A.

I shook my head at the length of the rain soaked queue outside the Natural History Museum. The school holidays have just started and I reckon every family decided to visit Exhibition Road today. Even the V&A had more than the usual. Still, I headed through the Sculpture Hall and up the stairs to the paintings where the visitor numbers trickled to manageable.

It was here that I met St Cecilia.

Now, when Simon and Garfunkle sang about Cecilia up in their bedroom, making love in the afternoon, they clearly weren’t thinking of this one.

St Cecilia and the Angels by Paul Delaroche 1836

St Cecilia and the Angels by Paul Delaroche 1836

Back in Roman times there was a Roman maid called Cecilia (actually her name probably wasn’t Cecilia at all; she was probably of the gens Caecilia, a Plebian family who traced their origins back to Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste and possibly the son of Vulcan) who wanted to stay a virgin forever, secure in the knowledge that her Christian god wanted her to remain that way. If I was pressed to suggest why this is the case, I’d have to turn to the pagan Vestals who remained virgins in order to save Rome from being sacked. Again, this is just as stupid but at least it has some sort of symbolism attached to it.

Anyway, the insanely chaste Cecilia was betrothed by her father to some sleepy dude called Valerian. At their wedding feast, his new bride was off in a corner of the banquet singing softly to her god (ie to herself) when he approached her. When he suggested they could, perhaps, head for the Cubiculum for a bit of consummation, she stared blankly at him. He told her he meant sex and she blanched.

But no, dear husband, I cannot! My god wants me to remain forever a virgin!” Squealed Cecilia.
That seems a bit odd. Why then did we get married? Surely your god makes sex the reward for marriage which is why he had a problem with gay marriage for so long,” Valerian reasoned.
We were married because my father insisted. But god doesn’t agree.
So, how do you know this is what your god wants? Have you read it in a chicken’s entrails? Or via a message, magically printed across the sky in stars? Because, seriously? I don’t believe any of it.
An angel told me so.
Really? An angel? Well, can I see this angel? Or is that restricted to the mad?
If you believe, you can see anything you want.
If I take certain drugs I can see anything I want as well…and a good amount of stuff I’d rather not see. Still…If I can see this angel of which you speak, I shall not insist on taking your virginity.

And so Cecilia told Valerian to go and get baptised at a particular milestone leading out of Rome and he would see the angel. Why the angel couldn’t have just appeared I don’t know. And why make the poor guy wander out of the city? I have no idea. Perhaps angels prefer meeting at milestones. If so, I wonder how they feel about roundabouts.

Anyway…guess what? Valerian went, was dunked and, amazingly, saw an angel! Unbelievable, right? Definitely a great story to tell the mates down the pub. Better than that, he rushed back home, fell to his knees and told Cecilia he wouldn’t take her virginity. He then went off to a handy brothel.

Because she was a Christian and not because she was a virgin, she was martyred in about 230AD by having her head chopped off.

She is the patron saint of musicians because she sang songs to god during her wedding. Which makes me wonder about these saints. When god said he didn’t want people praying to anyone but him how come he then made all these saints and angels who will intercede on your behalf? Are they the celestial version of lobbyists? If enough musicians pray to St Cecilia for heavenly inspiration does it give weight to god’s decision about whether to answer their prayer rather than the poor chap who lost his arm in a holy war?

Before leaving the patron saint to music to hum along with a couple of psalms, I feel it only proper to mention that Simon and Garfunkle wrote the lyrics for Cecilia based on St Cecilia as the patron saint of music. The whole ‘making love’ thing is to do with artistic inspiration and is merely ironic given Cecilia’s rampant virginity.

This entry was posted in Gary's Posts, Religion and other myths and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cecilia

  1. hankyoyu says:

    That was good Gary.Lol
    love mum xxx

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