Next, she gives the Invocacio ad Mariam, in which she invokes Mary as her Muse, praising her attributes and asking for her assistance. Faith without works is dead, and Mary must help her to tell her tale.
An Interpretatio Nominis Ceciliae follows, where the origin and meaning of Cecilia's name is described in detail. In effect, it means "Lily of Heaven," the white signifying her virginity and pureness.
|Saint Cecilia (1605)|
The Second Nun's Tale
|Cecilia with an Angel (1618-1621)|
Yet the two brothers are brought before the Roman authorities. If they refuse to sacrifice to Jupiter, their heads will be struck from their bodies. Seized by a clerk, Maximus, Valerian and Tiburce manage to garner the sympathy of the clerk and the executioners, and lead them to a faith in God. Nevertheless the Roman prefect, Almachius, knows of their refusal and beheads them and Maximus, claiming that he saw their souls soar to Heaven. The poor clerk is beaten to death with ropes of lead. Cecilia buries the three of them together.
|Cecilia's Trial (1611)|
|Saint Cecilia (1895)|
John William Waterhouse
"In a clear walled city on the sea. Near gilded organ pipes --- slept St. Cecily"
These tales of virgin saints must have been reasonably familiar during Chaucer's times, yet I'm not sure if I've ever heard of a married virgin saint. This tale perhaps fits with The Wife of Bath, in that in the Wife's tale, she controls her husband with sex, power and deceit, whereas in this tale Cecilia influences her husband spiritually, with her goodness and grace. Of course, perhaps I'm the only one who has conceived of such an interesting parallel ...... I'm not sure.
Ooo, I'm getting near the end of this project. I'm a little behind, and O, my reading partner, has already finished and compiled a fabulous final post. But I'll just plug away until I reach the finish line. I already feel that I'm going to miss all these vibrant and engaging characters!