The Martyrdom of St. Cecilia

WAG 1995.373


A pen and ink drawing of a scene of St. Cecilia's execution. According to a story from the 5th century, Cecilia, a Roman born a Christian, was told by an angel of the Lord who guarded her virginity to convert her husband Valerianus and his brother to Christianity and to keep her virginity on the night of her wedding. The two converted men were martyred at the order of the Roman prefect Turcius Almachius, who also ordered Cecilia's execution. The executioner in this drawing is standing behind the kneeing Cecilia with both of her hands bound, grabbing her hair, poised and ready to strike her on the neck with a sword. Above them, an angel is descending holding a rose crown and lilies. In the centre foreground is a violin and an open music score, symbols of St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians.