Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Catholic Activity: Nameday Ideas for the Feast of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr



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Her feast is November 22. She is the patroness of music. Included here are prayers, dessert and symbol ideas. Because St. Cecilia is included in the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass, there are two options for her nameday celebration


The Canon contains the names of forty saints; many are mentioned more than once. Yet how seldom do we think of them, how seldom do we review their lives.

Children who have these saints for patrons should feel especially honored, for in every Mass holy Mother Church invokes their intercession. Andy, Jude, and Judy will find their patrons, Andrew and Jude respectively, mentioned in the prayer called the Communicantes. Comelia, Connie, Corney and Neil will find their patron Cornelius listed there too, as will Lawrence, Loren, Laureen, and Laura.

In the Nobis quoque peccatoribus we find listed St. Bartholomew, patron of Bartley and Nathaniel; Alexander, patron of Sandra. There is also a patron for Lucille, St. Lucy; for Sheila, St. Cecilia; and for Stacey, St. Anastasia, "into whose company, we pray You, admit us, not weighing our merits but bestowing on us Your free pardon." St. Michael the Archangel is mentioned, as well as St. John the Baptist.

In the Nobis quoque peccatoribus we also invoke Sts. Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, and Anastasia. Of the first seven, most are well known. Marcellinus, patron of Marcel and Marcella, was a priest, Peter an exorcist. Of the women saints mentioned in this prayer, two were married, four were virgins, and one was a widow.

The martyr-saints have been honored by our Lord in a special way: "Thou hast set upon his head a crown of precious stones." For their feasts we suggest a cake topped by a crown of jeweled gumdrops, a crown cake, or a frozen gelatine dessert in a crown mold.

A harp or a wreath of roses on a cake for Cecilia, Cecil and Sheila (or the musical cake).


Father: O Madonna and saints of the Mass, who are so marvelously enshrined in the sacred rite to be with our Lord when He returns to offer Himself anew for us, thus recalling the holy group who accompanied Him in His journeys on earth, we, your clients, humbly pray that through your intercession we may understand better and honor and love more profoundly the mystery of the holy Sacrifice which He established on the eve of His death. Amen.

All: O Madonna and saints of the Mass, pray that assistance at the daily Sacrifice may increase.

St. Cecilia is a virgin-martyr. How fortunate are girls named after the glorious virgin-martyrs who battled to maintain their integrity and faith, and in return were divinely protected and rewarded. The virgin-martyrs sacrificed what was naturally good for the sake of God, the supreme Good. Their lives should inspire the faithful, and particularly their namesakes, to pay due homage to God. Nameday prayers on feasts of virgin-martyrs:

Father: Come, O spouse of Christ, receive the crown which has been prepared for you forever by the Lord, for whose love you shed your blood.

All: In your splendor and your beauty, make ready, ride in triumph, and rule.

Father: Let us pray. O God, from whose bounty all good gifts proceed and who in Your virgin-martyr Cecilia did both give the flower of virginity and the palm of martyrdom, at her intercession unite our souls to You by love so that we may avoid all perils and gain the rewards of eternity. Through Christ, our Lord.

All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Desserts and suggestions. During the Middle Ages, lilies and red roses were used in wreaths to commemorate the namedays of these saints. Chaucer was familiar with this usage:

Thou with thy garland, wrought of rose and lilies, Thee mene I, mayde and martyr, seint Cecile.

We encircle the nameday cake for our Sheila (Gaelic for Cecilia) with fresh, artificial, or icing flowers, usually wafer roses and calla lilies. Sometimes we use the dessert for a martyr (see Martyrs Chiffon Dessert) or the cake with musical notation (see Musical Cake). A laminated reproduction of St. Cecilia and an Angel by Gentileschi is available from the National Gallery of Art.

Other cakes suitable for a virgin-martyr are the crown cake , which designates her recompense in heaven, and the cross cake , which reminds the nameday child that her patron heeded the Lord's admonition: "Take up your cross and follow Me."

St. Cecilia's symbol, the harp, should not be hard to locate; we found one which was meant as a planter in a florist shop and used it as a centerpiece. There are gold paper decals in this form which have exciting uses for a child on place-cards, candy cups, and even on cakes

Activity Source: My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1962