Thursday, 22 November 2007
Memories of St Cecilia's
The basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere was built in the 5th century, then rebuilt by Pope Paschal I around 820 and again by Cardinal Sfondrati in 1599. The statue of St Cecilia is by Carlo Maderna. Her exposed neck shows the cuts made by the unsuccessful axeman who struck her three times. Her hands show three fingers and one in witness to the Christian faith in the Trinity and unity of God. A copy of the statue was placed in her sarcophagus in the catacombs of St Callixtus.
This was one of my favourite places as a student in Rome. The gregorian chant sung by the community of sisters was quite rare in Rome at that time. Their chaplain was a rather serious but kindly Monsignore who was always pleased when clerical students assisted at the Mass.
Another St Cecilia's is, of course, the Benedictine community in Ryde which has also resolutely kept up the tradition of Gregorian Chant. Please remember both communities in your prayers.