St Cecilia's Day

St Cecilia is known as the patron saint of musicians and it is her feast day today 22 November.

This painting of St Cecilia and an angel by Orazio Gentileschi (1563 - 1639) and Giovanni Lanfranco (1582 - 1647) really appeals to me. The young woman is concentrating so carefully on playing her organ. The angel is holding the manuscript but Cecilia is not looking at it. Her expression is sad and she seems to be hearing an inner voice to which she is responding.

St Cecilia is often portrayed accompanied by an angel. The reason for that lies in the mythical stories about her.

She is supposed to have been one of the Christians martyred under the Romans, possibly in Sicily or Rome in the 2nd or 3rd Centuries A.D.

The pious legends about her date from the 5th and 6th centuries. You can read one account here.

Since she is known as the patron saint of musicians I think one way to celebrate her day is to listen to part of Handel's Ode to St Cecilia and look at some more visual images as artists have imagined her. Enjoy.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


  1. Wow, thanks Nancy. What an extraordinary voice. I don't know this piece at all and would never have imagined the singer could be male. Lovely images too.

    1. Ray, the music clip is part of a march longer work, the cantata 'Ode for St Cecilia's Day' composed by Handel in 1739. The whole work is a setting of a poem 'A Song for St Cecilia's Day by John Dryden, published in 1687. The poem draws on the idea from ancient Greek philosophy that music is a fundamental force in Earth's creation. Dryden's poem also suggests that the earth and the whole universe are singing praise to the Creator. You can find the same idea in Chadwick's hymn (1864) that begins 'Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round of circling planets singing on their way...'


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