Painting by Italian artist Guido Reni “Saint Cecilia”. The size of the painting is 94 x 75 cm, oil on canvas. Cecilia, a Christian saint of the Catholic Church, lived in the first half of the 3rd century. Born to a Roman patrician family; in early youth she was secretly converted to Christianity and made a vow of virginity.
Parents wanted to marry her to the pagan Valeria, but she converted him to Christianity and inclined to honor her vow. Around 230, Cecilia suffered a martyr’s death with her fiancé and his brother, Tiburzia. Legend tells that Saint Cecilia was placed in a fiery hot bath, but remained unharmed; three times the executioner unsuccessfully tried to decapitate her, and only on the third day she died from wounds.
Pope Paschal I in 821 laid her remains in the crypt of the church of St. Cecilia in Rome. Memory November 22. Saint Cecilia was repeatedly portrayed by great masters: Raphael – in the Bologna Pinakothek, Domenichino, Carlo Dolci and other artists. Saint Cecilia is considered the patroness of sacred music.
Palestrina founded a society in Rome for the development of sacred music called the brotherhood of Saint Cecilia. Pope Pius IX transformed the society into the Academy and established the Order of Distinction for the members of this Academy, under the name of the Order of Saint Cecilia. In Italy, there are still several societies of sacred music, under the name of the Unions of Saint Cecilia.