22 November 2013

On the feast of St. Cecilia: Daily frustrations and the irony of prayer

Perhaps the greatest lesson of life that each of us must strive to learn, and re-learn, and learn yet again is how to accept the frustrations and disappointments of everyday life.  There is perhaps no place on earth more well-suited to learning this lesson - over and over again - is Rome.

Today being the memorial of Saint Cecilia I decided after class to walk to the Basilica of Saint Cecilia, which tradition says is built over the site of her house, to pray at her tomb.  It seemed like a good and worthy thing to do.

When I stopped through the main entrance into the courtyard of the basilica I was delighted to see grass (within the last week I've begun to miss grass, but there's more a consequence of living in a large city than a different country).  As I approached the entrance to the basilica I grew excited seeing the main doors suitable arrayed for the basilica's titular feast day:

On entering the basilica, though, I was disappointed to find it not well light and most - if not all - of the side chapels either not lit up and/or gated shut. 

Still I pressed forward to have a look at Stefano Moderno's famed sculpture of Saint Cecilia:

When I found the entrance to the crypt where Saint Cecilia's mortal remains are interred, I was disappointed to find an entrance of 3,50 euros.

In other churches such fees - if they exist - are waived are the patronal feast day and the lights of the churches are put on and access to generally restricted areas is opened.  Not so here.

Reluctantly I paid the fee and took some time exploring the remains of the original church - which now serves largely as the foundation for the present church - and some of the artifacts contained
therein, like this detail from a sarcofagus:

I think they are ready for a luau.

The greatest disappoint of all came when I arrived at the beautiful chapel containing the tomb of the patron saint of music and found the gate shut and padlocked (I put my camera through the bars to take a few pictures for you):

Being as near to the tomb of Saint Cecilia as was possible, I took out the holy card I was given when I bought my ticket and prayed:
Our sister Cecilia,
who, at the beginning of the journey of the Christian people,
showed us how to live
with strong faith and serenity until martyrdom,
together with your husband Valerian,
sustain us pilgrims of the Third Millenium,
particularly our families,
so that our everyday struggles and burdens -
often a martyrdom for our weakness -
will be sustained by faith in Christ our only Savior
who won against evil and was resurrected for the hope of all humanity.
The irony of the prayer was not lost on me.

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