St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Music Ministry serves all aspects of parish life. Liturgical musicians are called to minister to the “people gathered” by inspiring them, through music, to celebrate Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The Music Ministry is open to parishioners who are willing to share their talent in vocal and/or instrumental music, and at the same time exhibit a willingness to work with others, learning and growing in the understanding of liturgy. This ministry provides a great opportunity for the parishioners of all ages to become involved in our parish life.
As your probably aware St. Cecilia is the patroness of musicians and church music. It is said that as musicians played at her wedding she sang to the Lord in her heart., saying "Let my heart and my body be undefiled, o Lord, that I may not be confounded." Apparently she did not want to wed in the beginning. Cecilia grew up as an only child, a christian in a pagan household. She told her bridegroom that an angel had crowns for both of them if he would convert. After looking into it and consulting with Pope Urban, he converted and later brought his brother into the faith. It can also be said upon her death she sang to God. Her feast day is celebrated on November 22nd. St. Cecilia, one of seven women excluding the Virgin Mary to be commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Some of her musical attributes include; flute, organ, violin, harp, harpsichord, and singing.
St. Cecilia along with her husband, brother and a soldier suffered martyrdom in the year 230 under emperor Alexander Severus. Other research and probably more accurately report her death in the years between 176 and 180 under emperor Marcus Aurelius in Sicily. A Church in her honor exits in Rome from the 5th Century near the former ghetto situated in Trastevere, near the Ripa Grande quay. It was reconstructed in 820 and again in 1599. It is said she arranged to have her home preserved as a church before she was arrested.
Before her martyrdom the officers of the prefect attempted to have Cecilia killed by smothering her with steam. When this failed they sought to have her beheaded After three unsuccessful attempts Cecilia notified the officials she would not die until she received Holy Communion. She survived three more days As her family gathered around her cell, she opened her eyes, gazed at her family, closed her eyes once more never to open them again. Those gathered knew she was to become a saint in Heaven.
From the late 14th Century onwards, portraits of the Saint depict musical instruments around her. Raphael's 1514 painting shows her preference to Heavenly song as the instruments around her are broken and she is glancing toward the Heavenly Angels whom are singing a capella. Her glance becomes a common feature in Renaissance portraits and in the 19th Century St. Cecilia is adopted as a model of refined womanhood.
When St. Cecilia's body was discovered it was noted on one hand there was three fingers outstretched, on the other one finger, symbolizying the Trinity. In the 9th Century Pope Paschal had St. Cecilia's remains unearthed from the catacombs of St. Calixtus. Reportedly her body was incorrupt Her body was re-interred in the church of Santa Cecilia where a 12th or 13th century fresco memorializes the discovery of the incorrupt body. In 1599 her tomb was reopened by Paolo Cardinal Stodrati, who also reported that the body was intact and incorrupt. He commissioned Stefano Maderno to make a sculpture of the body and it is now on display at St. Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
There is a religious order called the Sisters of St. Cecelia who shear the lambs which wool is used to make the palliums of new Archbishops. The lalmbs are raised by trappist Priests in an Abbey in Rome. The lambs are blessed by the Pope every January 21st, the feast of St. Agnes. Cecilia's musical fame rests on a passing notice in her legend that she was beheaded and at the same time praised God singing to Him as she lay dying a martyr's death. She is frenquently depicted playing an organ or other musical instrument.