Saint of the day:
First Incorrupt Saint
Patron Saint of Hymns, great musicians, poets;
Albi, France; Archdiocese of Omaha; Mar del Plata, Argentina
Saint Cecilia’s Story
Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. There is no trace of honor being paid her in early times. A fragmentary inscription of the late fourth century refers to a church named after her, and her feast was celebrated at least in 545.
According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence, Valerian was converted, and was martyred along with his brother. 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.
Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.
(d. Sicily) (Relics: Rome, Italy)
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
(Saint Cecilia in Trastevere)
Piazza di Santa Cecilia 22
*This church is located in the southern part of Trastevere. It is built over the ruins of the house that St Cecilia had lived in prior to her martyrdom.
*In 821 the body of St Cecilia was exhumed from the Catacombs of San Callisto by St Paschal I (d. 824) and returned to this church.
Today her body rests within the crypt under the main altar.
*The recumbent statue of St Cecilia below the main altar was completed by Stefano Maderno in the late 16th century. A gash on her neck recalls the miraculous events surrounding her martyrdom. Tradition claims that St Cecilia was condemned to execution first by drowning and then by decapitation. Both attempts failed. The second method, however, left her greatly wounded. The executioner struck her neck three times with a sword but being unable to sever her head fled in fear. She survived for three days, offered all she had to the poor, and then expired.
Catacombs of San Callisto
Via Appia Antica 110/126
*These catacombs are located south of the Aurelian Walls.
*St Cecilia was originally buried in these catacombs. In 821 her remains were removed and taken to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
*It was at this location in the year 258 that Roman soldiers burst into a chapel and arrested St Sixtus II and four other deacons while they were celebrating the liturgy. St Lawrence (d. 258) was not among this group; however, a legend holds that St Lawrence was able to speak to St Sixtus just before the pope was martyred. In this conversation St Sixtus said to St Lawrence, “You shall follow me in three days.”
St Lawrence then in three days went on to suffer his own martyrdom by being burnt alive on a gridiron.
*St Sixtus II (d. 258), St Pontian (d. 235), St Fabian (d. 250), St Cornelius (d. 253), and a number of other early popes were originally buried here within the Papal Crypt. The remains of St Sixtus II were later moved to San Sisto Vecchio, the remains of St Fabian to San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura, and the remains of St Cornelius to Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Churches of Honor in Rome
San Luigi dei Francesi (Saint Louis of the French)
Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi 5
*This church is near Piazza Navona.
*The second chapel on the right side of the nave is dedicated to St Cecilia. The altarpiece within this chapel is entitled The Ecstasy of St Cecilia. It was completed by Guido Reni and is a copy of a work done by Raphael. Frescoes completed by Domenichino line the sidewalls and the vault. They depict various scenes from the life of St Cecilia.
San Carlo ai Catinari (Saint Charles at the Catinari)
Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 117
*This church is near the Largo di Torre Argentina.
*The third chapel on the right side of the nave, located in the transept arm, is dedicated to St Cecilia.
Sant’Agnese in Agone (Saint Agnes in Agone)
*A marble relief to the left of the main sanctuary depicts the death of St Cecilia. It was completed by Antonio Raggi in the 17th century.
*Also a relic of St Agnes’ skull is present in a chapel on the left side of the nave. According to tradition she was martyred here in 304 AD.
Argentinan Grilled Beef & Chimichurri Sauce
¼ cup hot water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ⅓ cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
⅔ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 boneless strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 pound each)
4 (2-inch) unsoaked wood chunks
ground black pepper
The chimichurri sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Our preferred steak for this recipe is strip steak, also known as New York strip. A less expensive alternative is a boneless shell sirloin steak (or top sirloin steak). We prefer oak, but other types of wood chunks can be used. Flipping 3 times during cooking allows for even cooking and limits flare-ups. To substitute table salt for kosher salt, halve the amounts listed in the recipe.
FOR THE SAUCE:
Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour (if preparing sauce in advance, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using).
FOR THE STEAK:
Combine cornstarch and salt in small bowl. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Rub entire surface of steaks with cornstarch mixture and place steaks, uncovered, in freezer until very firm, about 30 minutes.
Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange coals in single layer over entire surface of grill and, using tongs, place wood chunks directly on top of coals, spacing them evenly around perimeter of grill. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 2 seconds).
Season steaks with pepper. Place steaks on grill, cover, and cook until steaks begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover grill, flip steaks, and cook on second side until beginning to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again and cook first side until well charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip 1 last time and continue to cook until second side is well charred and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of steak registers 115 degrees for rare, about 2 minutes, or 120 degrees for medium-rare, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large plate and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Slice and serve, passing chimichurri sauce separately.