By Dom Prosper Guéranger - PB - 404 pages
In the nineteenth century there was a concerted effort on the part of liberal revisionists to undermine the Church’s history by challenging the veracity of the Acts of the Martyrs. Some miraculous events associated with the lives of very popular saints, whose names were canonized in the Roman Missal, were treated with ridicule by scholars more concerned with documents than the living evidence of common tradition.
It was righteous indignation that moved Abbot Dom Guéranger to defend the cause of Saint Cecilia, whose holy celebrity had spanned fifteen centuries. The abbot’s strategy was to validate the traditional accounts of all the martyrs’ lives by exonerating just one. He achieved this in the holy virgin Cecilia’s case by presenting in book form every morsel of factual evidence available, especially that which modern archeological excavations offered. As a result of his labor, there arose a refreshing new devotion to the young martyr, and – at least for a time — the cynical scoffs of the proud were silenced. This particular biography was written in response to the request of his co-reformer and friend, the Benedictine Abbess Cécile Bruyère.
Prospér Louis Pascal Guéranger was born in France, in 1805, at Sablé-sur-Sarthe. In the Napoleonic era, 1827, during the continued anti-clerical aftermath of the French Revolution, he was ordained a parish priest. As a young curé he authored several works on church-state relations. In 1836, having purchased an abandoned priory that was for sale in Solesmes, he and five other parish priests took solemn vows as Benedictines, with the intention of restoring the monastic life in France according to the ancient rule of Saint Benedict. Until his death there in 1875, Abbot Dom Guéranger devoted himself to restoring the cenobitical life as originally cultured thirteen centuries earlier by the father of western monasticism. He did much by his writings and prayers to keep the church in France loyal to the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and away from the dangers of both Gallicanism and Jansenism.
TABLE of CONTENTS
Chapter One Alexander Severus. His education. Tendency to Christianity. Defects of character.
Chapter Two Dispositions of the Magistrates of the Empire with regard to Christianity. Ulpian. Unceasing trials imminent for the Christians of Rome.
Chapter Three Martyrs under Alexander Severus. Situation and solicitude of Pope St. Urban. Progress of Christianity in Rome.
Chapter Four St. Cecilia. Family of the Cecilii. The Appian Way in the third century.
Chapter Five House in which Cecilia passed her youth. She consecrates her virginity to God. Her parents promise her in marriage. Valerian and Tiburtius.
Chapter Six Anxiety of St. Cecilia at her approaching union with Valerian. Celebration of the marriage. Confidence reposed in Valerian by St. Cecilia.
Chapter Seven Valerian repairs to Pope St. Urban. He is baptized. His return. Arrival of Tiburtius.
Chapter Eight Interview of Tiburtius with St. Cecilia and Valerian. His conversion and baptism.
Chapter Nine Alexander Severus leaves Rome. Violence exercised against the Christians. Valerian and Tiburtius are summoned before the prefect of Rome. Interrogatory of Tiburtius.
Chapter Ten Interrogatory of Valerian. The two brothers are condemned to death.
Chapter Eleven Conversion of Maximus, notary of Almachius. Cecilia’s interview with her husband and brother. Martyrdom of Sts. Valerian and Tiburtius.
Chapter Twelve Martyrdom of St. Maximus. Almachius sends for Cecilia and urges her to sacrifice to the idols. She refuses and converts the envoys of the prefect. The virgin appears before the tribunal of Almachius.
Chapter Thirteen Interrogatory of St. Cecilia.
Chapter Fourteen Martyrdom of St. Cecilia.
Chapter Fifteen Martyrdom of St. Urban. Pontificate of St. Pontianus. Death of Alexander Severus.
Chapter Sixteen Zeal of the Roman pontiffs in collecting the Acts of the Martyrs. The memory of St. Cecilia preserved in the Church of Rome. Her Basilica.
Chapter Seventeen Compilation of the Acts of St. Cecilia, in the 5th century, in their present form. Motives of this compilation. Canon of Pope St. Gelasius upon the use of the Acts of the Martyrs.
Chapter Eighteen Testimony of the Liturgies of the West in favor of the Acts of St. Cecilia
Chapter Nineteen The Appian Way from the fourth century to the ninth.
Chapter Twenty Events relating to St. Cecilia and her church throughout the seventh century.
Chapter Twenty-One Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the seventh and eighth centuries. In the seventh, the bodies of the martyrs are disinterred and translated to the churches of Rome.
Chapter Twenty-Two Discovery of Cecilia’s body by Pope St. Paschal
Chapter Twenty-Three Translation of the bodies of Sts. Cecilia, Valerian, Tiburtius, Maximus, Urban, and Lucius. St. Paschal’s munificence towards the basilica of St. Cecilia
Chapter Twenty-Four Confirmation of the Acts of St. Cecilia by the circumstances attending the discovery of her body. Digression upon the relics of St. Cecilia.
Chapter Twenty-Five Events relating to Cecilia and her Basilica throughout the course of the ninth and tench centuries. Homage rendered to Cecilia in the Greek Liturgy.
Chapter Twenty-Six Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. Veneration paid to the Roman virgin in France.
Chapter Twenty-Seven Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Homage paid by literature and the arts to the Roman virgin.
Chapter Twenty-Eight Cardinal Paul Emilius Sfondrato. His devotion to St. Cecilia.His discovery of her body.
Chapter Twenty-Nine Sfondrato acquaints Clement VIII with the discovery of Cecilia’s body. Joy of the Pontiff. Baronius comes to identify the holy relics.
Chapter Thirty Sfondrato’s preparations for the translation of Cecilia’s body. Veneration of Clement VIII for the Roman Virgin.
Chapter Thirty-One Transation of Cecilia’s body by Clement VIII.
Chapter Thirty-Two Confirmation of the Acts of St. Cecilia by the circumstances attending the second discovery of her body.
Chapter Thirty-Three Sfondrato discovers the body of St. Agnes. His piety towards the mother of God and the saints. His will and death. His epitaph in the basilica of St. Cecilia.
Chapter Thirty-Four Facts relating to St. Cecilia and her basilica throughout the seventeenth century. The Jansenistic school attacks the acts of the holy martyr.
Chapter Thirty-Five Examination and refutation of the arguments of the Jansenists against the Acts of St. Cecilia.
Chapter Thirty-Six Continuation of the same subject.
Chapter Thirty-Seven Events relating to Cecilia and her basilica throughout the eighteenth century.
Chapter Thirty-Eight Events relating to St. Cecilia and her basilica throughout the nineteenth century.