Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stefano Maderno, St. Cecilia, and St. Therese

On November 22nd, the feast day of St. Cecilia, I bring you the combination of two of the Catholic Church's beautiful saints: St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, and St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians, artists, and poets.

Detail of Stefano Maderno's sculpture of St. Cecilia
"Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet: How many souls would I convert to Jesus now. I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet; For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou! Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way perfect abandonment that sweetest fruit of love. Saint of my heart! Oh, soon, bring me to endless day; obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!

 -- St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower

The young Therese Martin was inspired by Stefano Maderno's sculpture of St. Cecilia to write this prayer when she visited St. Cecilia's basilica with her father while on pilgrimage to Rome in 1887. 

Pope Clement VIII had St. Cecilia's body disinterred in 1599. When she was found to be incorrupt, Maderno was enlisted to carve a sculpture of the saint as she was discovered in her tomb. Maderno inscribed on the statue's base, "Behold the body of the most holy virgin Cecilia whom I myself saw lying incorrupt in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture of body." 

Happy Feast day to my fellow artists, poets, and musicians! 

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