St. Ceciliais one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, even if the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. According to Johann Peter Kirsch, while it is a pious romance, like so many others compiled in the fifth and sixth century, the existence of the martyrs, however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts of the Martyrs, has perhaps some historical foundation. Her feast day has been celebrated since about the fourth century.
It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Romewho, with her husband Valerian, his brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier named Maximus, suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus. The research of Giovanni Battista de Rossi agrees with the statement of Venantius Fortunatus,Bishop of Poitiers (d. 600), that she perished in Sicily under Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180.
According to the story, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that she had an angel of the Lord watching over her who would punish him if he dared to violate her virginity but who would love him if he could respect her maidenhood. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he would see the angel if he would go to the third milestone on the Via Appia (the Appian Way) and be baptized by PopeUrbanus. After his baptism, he found an angel standing by the side of Cecilia, and crowning her with a chaplet of roses and lilies.
The martyrdom of Cecilia is said to have followed that of Valerian and his brother by the prefect Turcius Almachius. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.
Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of SantaCecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
There is no mention of Cecilia in the Depositio Martyrum, but there is a record of an early Roman Christian church founded by a lady of this name Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.