SAINT CECILIA:


MARRIAGE


And


MARTYRDOM


– From the Mystical Revelations of Maria Valtorta –
 
 
– INTRODUCTORY NOTE –
"For over a thousand years St. Cecilia...has been one of the most greatly venerated of the maiden martyrs of the early Church, and is one of those named in the canon of the Mass. Her 'acts' state that she was a patrician girl of Rome and she was brought up a Christian. She wore a coarse garment beneath the clothes of her rank, fasted from food several days a week, and determined to remain a maiden for the love of God. But her father had other views, and gave her in marriage to a young patrician named Valerian..."
So begins the account of this popular virgin-martyr and patron saint of musicians in Butler's Lives of the Saints.1 The presentation offered here, however, is an alternate account drawn from the Visions and Dictations given to the great Italian mystic of our own day, Maria Valtorta [1961†], published in her I Quaderni del 1944 ["The Notebooks for 1944"], and translated especially for this website. 

Three Visions are recounted here shown by Christ to Valtorta, followed by His own Commentaries on the Visions which He subsequently dictated to her. Also included here as a kind of finale, is a brief Dictation given in the Notes following Vision III, in which Christ alludes to Valtorta's own holiness from her martyrdom as a victim soul, thus virtually "canonizing" her by equating her with St. Cecilia. 

May this account of the marriage and martyrdom of St. Cecilia, like so many other such accounts given us though Valtorta's great sufferings and labors of love, inspire modern day Christians to a similiar whole-hearted commitment to the Master Whom both Cecilia and Valtorta so loved. 

– Translator
 
 
– I –
 
 [July 22, 1944, St. Mary Magdalen]2
 
 
Valtorta:

A beautiful and long Vision which has nothing to do with the Holy Penitent3 whom I have always loved so much. I write it down adding pages to this notebook because I am alone and I use whatever I have at hand.

I see the catacombs. Although I have never been in the catacombs, I understand that these are [the catacombs]. What kind I don’t know. I see a dim meandering of narrow corridors dug in the earth, low and moist, all made to twist around like a labyrinth. You walk straight and seem to be able to continue, at most to be able to turn into another corridor, but instead find yourself before an earth wall, and it’s necessary to turn around, to go back until you find another corridor that goes further. In them are niches and more niches, ready to receive martyrs. Ready in this sense: that each one is slightly dug out in the wall to give a pattern to the diggers. So it is at the beginning [of the catacombs]. But the more you penetrate into them, the deeper and more complete are the burial niches, all [going] in the direction of the wall, like so many berths in a ship. Others, instead, are already filled with their holy remains and closed up with a rough stone awkwardly inscribed with the name of the martyr or the deceased and with Christian signs, besides a word of farewell and of commendation.

But these already closed and completed niches are just in that section which I suppose is the central part of the catacomb, because here wider surroundings often open up, like large and small rooms that are higher, adorned with engravings, and are more illuminated than the others by little oil lamps scattered here and there out of devotion or for the convenience of the faithful whose own little lanterns have for some reason gone out.

Even the persons here are more numerous and flow from all sides, greeting each other with love, in a low voice, as the holy place requires. There are men, women and babies, of every social condition, clothed as the poor and as patricians. The women have their heads covered with a light cloth like muslin. It is not the veil of Tulle,4 certainly, but it’s like a thick, thick gauze, more beautiful on the rich, poorer on the poor, dark for the married and widows, white for virgins. There are married women who have babies in their arms. Perhaps they have no one with whom to leave them and have brought them with them. And if the older children walk at the side of their mamas, the smallest, some still infants, sleep happily under their mother’s veil, rocked by the steps of their mother and by the slow and pious songs that rise beneath the [underground] vaults. They seem like little angels descended from Heaven and dreaming of that Paradise for which they smile in sleep.

The people increase and end up reuniting in a very wide semi-circular room which has, at the apex of the circle, an altar turned toward the crowd, and is all covered with pictures or mosaics.5 I don’t understand this well. I know that there are colored pictures in which the most vivid or clearest tones shine and golden halos sparkle. On the altar many lamps are lit. Around the altar, a crown of white-garbed and white-veiled virgins.

An old man of a good and majestic appearance enters, giving blessings. I believe he is the Pontiff, because all prostrate in reverence. He is surrounded by priests and deacons, and passes among the dense row of bowed heads with a smile of unutterable beauty on his face. His smile alone tells of his holiness. He ascends to the altar and prepares for the rite while the faithful sing.

The celebration takes place. It's almost like ours.6 Much more complex than what I saw in the Tullianum,7 celebrated by the apostle Paul, and than that seen as celebrated in the house of Petronilla.7

The old celebrant -- a Bishop, certainly, if not the Pontiff -- is helped and served by deacons, who have much different vestments than his own because, while he wears a celebration vestment which (to give you some idea) is like those dressing gowns that women use when combing their hair -- small circular mantles that cover them in the front and on their back and shoulders and arms, even as far as their wrists --– the deacons on the other hand have a celebration vestment almost like those of today, lengthened to the knees and with ample and short sleeves.

The Mass consists of songs, which I understand to be parts of psalms or of the Apocalypse, and readings of parts of epistles or the bible, and [parts] from the Gospel, which are commented upon to the faithful by the deacons in turn.

Having finished the reading of the Gospel –a young deacon reads it in a singing voice – the Pontiff rises. I call him this because I hear him pointed out thus by a mama to her rather restless baby. The [Gospel] part chosen was the parable of the ten virgins: the wise and the foolish ones.8 The Pontiff says:

‘This parable, properly about virgins, is addressed to all souls, since the merits of the Savior’s Blood and Grace "re-virginize" them and make them like young maidens awaiting the Bridegroom.

Smile, O failing old men; raise up your face, O patricians, who till yesterday were immersed in the mire of corrupt paganism. Look, O mothers and wives, without further regret at your candid ignorance of young maidens. In your soul, you are not unlike these lilies among which the Lamb walks and which now make a crown for His altar. Your soul has the beauty of a virgin whom no kiss has deflowered, when you are reborn and remain in Christ, our Lord. His coming makes the soul -- which before was filthy and black with the most debasing vices -- whiter than the dawn over a mountain covered with snow. Repentance washes your soul, your will purifies it, but love, love of our holy Savior, love which comes from His Blood that shouts with the voice of love, restores to you perfect virginity. Not that [virginity] which formerly you once had from the dawn of your human life. But that [virginity] which was from the father of all: Adam, and that which was from the mother of all: Eve, before Satan passed near their angelic innocence, misleading them. Their innocence: a Divine gift which clothed them with grace in the eyes of God and the universe.

O holy virginity of the Christian life! Bath of Blood, of the Blood of a God that makes you new and pure as the Man and the Woman [who had just] come forth from the hands of the Most High! O second birth of your life, into the Christian life, prelude of that third birth which Heaven will give you when you ascend at God’s beckoning: white through faith or purple through martyrdom, beautiful as angels and worthy of seeing and following Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior!

But today, more than to those souls re-virginized by Grace, I address myself to those enclosed in a virgin body, with the will of a virgin. To the wise virgins who have understood the invitation of our Savior’s love and the words of the virgin, John,9 and want to follow the Lamb forever among the ranks of those who do not know contamination, and who eternally fill Heaven with the canticle which none can speak but those who are virgins out of love of God.10 And I speak to the [virgin] strong in faith, in hope, in charity, who is fed this night with the immaculate Flesh of the Word, and is strengthened with His Blood as from heavenly Wine to be strong in her venture.

One among you will arise from this altar to go meet a destiny whose name can be "death." And she goes there trusting in God, not with the faith common to all Christians, but with a still more perfect faith which is not limited to believing for oneself, to believing in the Divine protection for oneself. But she believes also for the others and hopes to bring to this altar him who tomorrow will be, in the eyes of the world, her husband, but in the eyes of God, her dearly beloved brother. A doubly11 perfect virginity which feels secure about its own strength to the point of not fearing violation, of not fearing the anger of a disappointed husband, of not fearing the weakness of its feelings, nor the dread of threats, nor the disappointment of its hopes, of not fearing the dread and near certainty of martyrdom.

Arise and smile at your true Husband, O chaste virgin of Christ who go to meet that man while looking at God, who go there to bring the man to God! God keeps you and smiles on you, and His Mother who was a Virgin smiles on you, and the angels make a crown for you. Arise, and come slake your thirst at the immaculate Font before going to your cross, to your glory.

Come, bride of Christ. Repeat to Him your song of love beneath these vaults which are more dear to you than the cradle of your birth in the world, and carry it with you till the moment that your soul will sing it in Heaven while your body will rest in its last sleep in the arms of this, your true Mother: the Apostolic Church.’

The Pontiff's homily being now finished, there is a little noise, because the Christians whisper, looking and nodding at the ranks of the virgins. But there is a ‘shhhhh’ to impose silence, and then the catechumens are sent out and the Mass follows.

There is no Credo. At least I don’t hear it. Some deacons pass among the faithful gathering offerings, while other deacons sing with their manly voices, alternating stanzas of a hymn with the candid voices of the virgins.

Swirls of incense rise toward the vault of the [underground] room while the Pontiff prays at the altar and the deacons lift up on their palms the offerings collected in precious vessels and in equally precious amphorae.

The Mass continues now just as it is today.6 After the dialog which precedes the Preface, and the Preface sung by the faithful, there is a great silence in which are heard only the aspirations and whispers of the Celebrant who prays bowed over the altar and who then rises and, in a more distinct voice, says the words of Consecration.

The ‘Our Father’ is very beautiful, intoned by all. When the distribution of the [consecrated] Species is begun, the deacons sing. The virgins are given Communion first. Then they sing the song heard for the burial of St. Agnes:12 ‘I saw upon Mount Sion a Lamb standing…’13 This canticle lasts as long as the distribution of the Species, alternating with the Psalm: ‘As the deer sighs for the waters, so my soul pants for You my God.’14 (I believe I have transposed it well.)

The Mass has ended. The Christians crowd around the Pontiff to be blessed by him individually also, and to bid farewell to the virgin whom the Pontiff had addressed. These farewells take place however in a neighboring room, I would say an antechamber of the true and proper church. And they take place when, after a longer prayer by all the others present, the virgin rises from her place, prostrates herself at the foot of the altar and kisses the edge of it. She truly does seem a deer that doesn’t know how to detach itself from its font of pure water.

I hear them call her: ‘Cecilia, Cecilia.’ And finally I see her, I see her face, because now she is right near the Pontiff and her veil is raised up a little. She is very beautiful and very young. Tall, with a graceful figure, very refined in her features, with a beautiful voice and the smile and look of an angel. Some ask her how she could ever have decided on an earthly marriage; others, if she doesn’t fear the wrath of her patrician [fiancé] when he discovers she is a Christian.

A virgin regrets that Cecilia is renouncing her virginity. Cecilia answers her, to answer all:

'You are mistaken, Balbina. I am not renouncing my viriginity for anyone. I have consecrated my body to God as [also] my heart, and to Him I remain faithful. I love God more than my relatives. But I still love them so much as not to want to bring them to death before God calls them. I love Jesus, eternal Spouse, more than any man. But I love men so much as to have recourse to this means in order not to lose the soul of Valerian. He loves me, and I love him chastely, I love him perfectly, so much so that I want to have him with me in the Light and in the Truth. I do not fear his anger. I hope in the Lord to conquer. I hope in Jesus to Christianize my earthly spouse. But if I do not conquer in this, and martyrdom is given me, I will the sooner conquer my crown.

But no!… I see three crowns descending from Heaven: Two alike and one made of three orders of gems. The two alike are all red with rubies. The third is of two bands of rubies around a great string of very pure pearls. They await us. Do not fear for me. The power of the Lord will defend me. In this church we will find ourselves soon united for the salvation of the new brothers. Farewell. In God.'

They go out of the catacombs. All wrap themselves in dark mantles and slip away on the roads still half-dark because the dawn is just barely beginning.

Cecilia follows, going together with a deacon and some virgins. At the gate of a wide building they leave each other. Cecilia enters with only two virgins. Perhaps two maidservants. The doorkeeper however must be a Christian because he greets [her] thus: 'Peace to you!.'

Cecilia withdraws into her rooms and together with the two [virgins] prays and then prepares for the wedding. They comb her hair very well. They slip a very fine garment of whitest wool on her, adorned with a laced fret of embroidery: white on white. It seems like embroidery in silver and pearls. They put jewels on her ears, her fingers, her neck and her wrists.

The house is animated. Matrons and other maidservants enter. A continual and festive going and coming.

Then I attend what I believe is the pagan wedding. That is, the arrival of the bridegroom amid music and guests and with ceremonies of greetings and sprinklings and similar rituals, and then the departure in a sedan chair toward the bridegroom’s house, all ready for the celebration. I notice that Cecilia passes beneath arches of white woolen bands and of boughs which seem to me to be myrtle, and she stops before the lararium,15 I believe, where there are new ceremonies of sprinklings and formulas. I then see the two giving each other their hand and saying the ritual phrase: ‘Where you [are], Caius, I Caia [am].’

There are so many people, and more or less all in the same garments: togas, togas and more togas, that I don’t understand who is the priest of the rite, or if there is one. I seem to have vertigo!

Then Cecilia, held by her bridegroom’s hand, makes a circuit of the hall (I don’t know if I am saying it well), in short, of the room with niches and columns where the lararium is, and she greets the statues of Valerian’s ancestors, I believe. And afterward she passes beneath new arches of myrtle and enters into the house proper. On the threshold they offer her gifts and, among other things, a distaff and spindle. An old matron offers it to her. (I don’t know who she is.)

The feast begins with the usual Roman banquet and continues amid songs and dances. The room is very rich, as is all the house. There is a courtyard – I believe it’s called an impluvium,16 but I don’t remember well the names of Roman buildings nor do I know if I apply it correctly – a courtyard that is a gem of fountains, statues and flower beds. The triclinium17 is between this and the thick and flowery garden which is beyond the house, amid the bushes, marble statues and very beautiful fountains.

It seems to me that much time passes because evening falls. One sees that for the Romans there were no ration tickets.18 The banquet never ends. It's true that there are pauses in the songs and dances. But in a word....

Cecilia smiles at her bridegroom who speaks to her and looks at her with love. But she seems a little inattentive. Valerian asks her if she is tired and, perhaps in order to do something pleasing for her, rises to dismiss the guests.

Cecilia withdraws into her new rooms. Her Christian maidservants are with her. They pray, and in order to have a cross, Cecilia dips a finger in a bowl which must serve for her dressing table, and marks a slight dark cross on the marble of a wall. The maidservants take off her rich attire, putting a simple woolen garment on her; they loosen her hair taking the precious hairpins out of it and knot it in two plaits for her. Thus, without any jewels, without any curls, with her plaits on her shoulders, Cecilia seems a young girl, while I judge her to be 18 to 20 years old.

A last prayer and a nod to the maidservants who go out to return with others more elderly, certainly of Valerian’s house. They go out in procession to a magnificent room, and the eldest accompany Cecilia to the bed, which is rather like Turkish couches of today, only the base is of inlaid ivory and the pillars are of ivory at the four sides, supporting a purple canopy. The bed too is covered with a very rich purple cloth. They leave Cecilia alone.

Valerian enters and goes with outstretched hands to Cecilia. One sees that he loves her much. Cecilia smiles at his smile. But she doesn’t go toward him. She remains standing in the center of the room, since the old maidservants who laid her on the bed had no sooner gone out, then she got up again.

Valerian is astonished. He believes they did not serve her as they should have and is already angry at the maidservants. But Cecilia pacifies him saying it was she who wished to await him standing.

‘Come, then, my Cecilia,’ says Valerian seeking to embrace her. ‘Come, for I love you so much.’

‘I too. But do not touch me. Do not offend me with human caresses.

‘But Cecilia!... You are my bride."

‘I am God’s, Valerian. I am a Christian. I love you, but with my soul in Heaven. You have not married a woman, but a daughter of God whom the angels serve. And the angel of God stands with me as a defense. Do not offend that heavenly creature with acts of trivial love. You would have his chastisement.'

Valerian is bewildered. At first his astonishment paralyzes him, but then anger at being mocked overcomes him and he is agitated and shouts. He is violent, a supremely disappointed man. ‘You have betrayed me! You have made a game of me. I don’t believe it. I cannot, I don’t want to believe that you are a Christian. You are too good, beautiful and intelligent to belong to this filthy gang. But no!… It’s a joke. You want to play like a child. It’s your feast. But the joke is too atrocious. Enough. Come to me.’

‘I am a Christian. I am not joking. I glory in being one because to be such means to be great on earth and beyond. I love you, Valerian. I love you so much that I have come to you to bring you to God, to have you with me in God.’

‘A curse on you, madwoman and perjurer! Why have you betrayed me. Don’t you fear my vengeance?…’

‘No, because I know that you are noble and good and you love me. No, because I know that you do not dare to condemn without proof of guilt. I have no guilt...'.

‘You lie speaking of angels and gods. How can I believe in this? I must see and if I saw…if I saw I would respect you as an angel. But for now you are my bride. I see nothing. I see only you.’

‘Valerian, can you believe that I lie? Can you believe it, you indeed who know me? Lies, Valerian, are for cowards. Believe what I tell you. If you want to see my angel, believe in me and you will see him. Believe in her who loves you. Look: I am alone with you, You could kill me. I have no fear. I am at your mercy. You could denounce me to the Prefect. I have no fear. The angel shelters me with his wings. Oh! If you could see him!...'

‘How could I see him?’

‘By believing in that which I believe. Look: on my heart is a little scroll. You know what it is? It is the Word of my God. God does not lie, and God had said to have no fear, we who believe in Him, because serpents and scorpions will be without poison for our feet...'19.

‘But you all die too by the thousands in the arenas...'

‘No. We do not die. We live eternally. Olympus does not exist. Paradise does exist. In It there are no lying gods and bestial passions. But only angels and saints in celestial lights and harmonies. I hear them… I see them… O Light! O Voice! O Paradise! Descend! Descend! Come to make Your own this son of Yours, this my husband. Your crown first for him before me. For me the sorrow of being without his affection, but the joy of seeing him loved by You, in You, before my coming, O joyous Heaven! O eternal marriage! Valerian, we will be united before God, virgin spouses, happy with a perfect love…' Cecilia is ecstatic.

Valerian looks at her admiringly, moved. 'How could I … how could I have that? I am a Roman patrician. Until yesterday I was depraved and I was cruel. How could I be like you, an angel?’ 

‘My Lord came to give life to the dead. To dead souls. Be reborn in Him and you will be like me. Let’s read together His Word, and your bride will be happy to be your teacher. And then I will lead you with me to the holy Pontiff. He will give you the complete light and grace. Like a blind man whose pupils are opened, you will see. Oh! Come, Valerian, and hear the eternal Word which sings in my heart.’

And Cecilia takes her husband by the hand, now all humble and calm as a baby, and sits near him on two wide seats and reads the First chapter of the Gospel of St. John up to verse 14, then the Third chapter with the episode of Nicodemus.

The voice of Cecilia is like the music of a harp in reading those pages, and Valerian listens to her, first remaining seated with his head propped on his hands, placing his elbows on his knees, still a little suspicious and incredulous. Then he leans his head on the shoulder of his bride and with his eyes closed listens attentively and, when she stops, entreats her: ‘Again, again.’ Cecilia reads fragments of Matthew and Luke, all suited to persuade her husband always more, and she ends by returning to John from which she reads about the washing [of the feet] and what follows.20

Valerian now weeps. Tears fall quietly from his closed eyelids. Cecilia sees them and smiles, but she doesn’t show that she notices them. Having read the episode of the incredulous Thomas,21 she is silent…

And they remain thus, the one absorbed in God, the other in himself, until Valerian shouts: ‘I believe, I believe, Cecilia. Only a true God could have said those words and loved in that way. Bring me to your Pontiff. I want to love what you love. I want what you want. Have no more fear of me, Cecilia. We will be as you wish: married in God and, here, brother and sister. Let’s go, because I don’t want to delay in seeing what you see: the angel of your whiteness.’

And Cecilia, radiant, rises, opens the window, pulls aside the curtains so that the light of the new day enters, and signs herself saying the Our Father: slowly, slowly, so that her husband can follow her, and then with her hand she signs him on the forehead, the breast, and shoulders in the sign of the cross. Then she goes out holding her husband always by the hand, guiding him toward the Light. I see nothing else. But Jesus says to me:

________________________
COMMENTARY ON THE VISION
 
JESUS:

‘How much you all have to learn from this episode of Cecilia! It is a gospel of the Faith.22 For the faith of Cecilia was still greater than that of so many other virgins.

Consider. She went to the marriage trusting in Me Who said: "If you have as much faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to a mountain: 'withdraw yourself,' and it would be removed."23 She went there sure of a triple miracle: of being preserved from any violence, of being an apostle for her pagan husband, of being immune for the moment, even on his part, from any denunciation. Sure in her faith, she took a risky step in the eyes of all, -- not in her own eyes, since hers fixed on Me saw My smile. And her faith had [the fruit] she hoped for.

How did she go to the ordeal? Strengthened by Me. She rises up from an altar to go to the trial. Not to a bed. She does not speak with men. She speaks with God. She does not lean on anyone else but Me.

She loved Valerian holily, she loved him beyond the flesh. An angelic bride, she wants to continue to love her companion thus for all her true Life. She does not limit herself to making him happy here. She wants to make him happy for eternity. She is not an egotist. She gives him that which is her own good: the knowledge of God. She confronts the danger too to save him. As a mother, she does not care even about dangers in order to bring her offspring to Life.

The true Religion is never barren. It gives an ardor for spiritual fatherhood and motherhood that fills the ages with warm saints. How many are those who in these twenty centuries have poured themselves out, making themselves voluntary eunuchs24 also, to be free to love not a few, but [to love] so many, all the unhappy ones!

Look at how many virgins become as mothers for orphans, how many virgins become as fathers for the abandoned. Look at how many generous [souls] without cassocks or habits make of their life a holocaust to bring to God the greatest misery: souls who are lost and driven mad in despair and in a spiritual loneliness. Look. You do not know them. But I know them, one by one, and I see them as beloved of the Father.

Cecilia teaches you something too. That to deserve to see God it is necessary to be pure. She teaches it to Valerian and to all of you. I have said: ‘Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God.’25

To be pure does not mean to be a virgin. There are virgins who are impure, and fathers and mothers who are pure. Virginity is [being] physically inviolate -- and should be – spiritually inviolate. Purity is chastity which endures in [whatever] circumstances of life. In all [circumstances]. He is pure who does not practice and approve the lust and appetites of the flesh. He is pure who does not find delight in licentious thoughts or conversations or sights. He is pure who, convinced of God’'s presence everywhere, behaves, whether alone with himself or with others, as if he were in public.

Say [to yourself]: Would you do in the middle of a [public] square what you permit yourself to do in your room? Would you say to others, with whom you want to remain in high esteem, what you ponder within? No. Because on that road you would incur the punishment of men and [be] near men in their scorn [for you]. So then, why do you act differently with God? You are not ashamed to appear to Him as pigs, while you are ashamed to show yourselves such in the eyes of men?

Valerian saw Cecilia’s angel and [also] had his own, and he brought Tiburtius26 to God. Valerian saw the angel after Grace, along with his own will, made him worthy to see the angel of God. And yet Valerian was not a virgin. But what merit to know how to tear oneself away from every inveterate pagan habit through a supernatural love! A great merit in Cecilia who knew how to keep her affection for her husband in all the spiritual spheres, with a virginity doubly heroic; and a great merit in Valerian to know how to want to be reborn to the purity of infancy, in order to come with a white robe into My Heaven.

The pure of heart! A perfumed and blossoming flowerbed over which the angels hover. The strong in faith! Rock upon which rises and shines My Cross. Rock upon which every stone is a heart cemented to another in the common Faith which binds them.

Nothing do I deny to one who knows how to conquer the flesh and temptations. As for Cecilia, I give victory to one who believes and is pure of body and of thought.

The Pontiff Urban had talked about the re-virginizing of souls through their rebirth and perduring in Me. Know how to reach that. It is not enough to be baptized in order to be living in Me. It is necessary to know how to remain there.

A persistent struggle against the demon and the flesh. But you are not alone to fight it. Your angel and I Myself are with you. And the earth will start toward true peace when the first to make peace will be hearts with themselves and with God, with themselves and with their brothers, no longer being burned up at that which is evil and which always goads [one] to greater evil. Like an avalanche that begins from a nothing and becomes a gigantic mass.

So much I should say to married couples. But to what avail? I have already said it.27 There is no desire to understand. In a fallen world not only does virginity seem madness, but chastity in marriage, continence, which makes of man a Man and not a beast, is no longer reputed as anything but weakness and loss.

You are all impure and you exude impurity. You do not give names to your moral evils. {But] there are three of them, always ancient and always new: pride, greed and sensuality. But you have now reached perfection in these three wild beasts which tear you all to pieces and go off seeking [prey] with maddened greed.

It is for the better among you that I have given this episode; for the others it is useless, because in their soul, fouled with corruption, it only tickles them with laughter. But you, the good, are faithful. Sing your faith with a pure heart to God. And God will console you by giving to you, as I have said. To the good among the better ones, I will give the complete knowledge of Valerian’s conversion through the merit of a pure and faithful virgin.’"28
 

_____________________________
 
 NOTES

1. Op. cit., Ed., Herbert Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater (P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1956), IV, under date of November 22nd.
2. Maria Valtorta, I Quaderni del 1944 (Edizioni Pisani / Centro Editoriale Valtortiano srl, Via Po 95, 03036 Isola del Liri (FR), Italia, 1985): 521-531. [Valtorta is here describing this Vision to her spiritual director, Fr. Romuald Migliorini, OSM.]
3. "Holy Penitent": that is, St. Mary Magdalen whose feast occurred the day of this Vision.
4. "Tulle": A city of France. Perhaps an allusion to the fineries displayed in that city.
5. Valtorta has here drawn in the text a semicircle like an inverted bowl, with an altar at the apex or top of the semicircle.
6. Valtorta is obviously referring here to the holy Mass as it was celebrated in her time (1940-1961), before the reform of the liturgy introduced by the II Vatican Council, even if the celebration she describes remains similar to that of our own day.
7. "Tullianum...Petronilla": Valtorta refers here to two of her earlier Visions also found on this website: that of February 29, 1944, presented in The Circus, Part II, in which St. Paul offers a Mass in the "Tullianum," a Roman dungeon; and the Vision of March 4th, 1944, presented in The Martyrdom of St. Fenicola and the Death of St. Petronilla , where she is shown another later form of the Mass. 
8. Matthew 25:1-13.
9. "The virgin, John": That is, St. John the Apostle.
10. Revelation 14:4.
11. "Doubly" [Italian: "Doppia"]: "…is an uncertain reading," according to Valtorta’s editor.
12. In a Vision of January 20, 1944.
13. Revelation 14:1.
14. Psalm 42 (41): 2
15. "Lararium" : A household shrine to the deified ancestors of a particular Roman family.
16. "Impluvium": The "impluvium" would actually be a rectangular or square pond or basin in the floor of a Roman building or house. It was located directly beneath the "compluvium," a sort of open skylight through which rainwater fell and was collected in the impluvium beneath it.
17. "Triclinium": The banquet hall of a Roman house, usually with cushions on three sides for reclining at table.
18. "Ration tickets": [From the editor]: "In the period of the [2nd World] War in which Valtorta writes, ration tickets regulated the rationing of bread and other foods.
19. Mark 16:17-18.
20. John 13:1ff.
21. John 20:24-29.
22. Of a Locution given her previously on February 28, 1944, Valtorta says: "My internal Advisor tells me: ‘Call these contemplations that you have, and which I will speak to you: "Gospels of the Faith," because for you and for others they will come to illustrate the power of faith and its fruits and to confirm you in that faith in God.’"
23. Matthew 17:19. Luke 17:6.
24. Matthew 19:12.
25. Matthew 5:8.
26. Tiburtius: Valerian’s brother.
27. In previous Dictations of March 22nd and June 21st, 1944.
28. That is, through Cecilia’'s merit, the rest of the story of Valerian's conversion is given in the following Vision and Commentary by Christ.


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– I I –
[July 23, 1944]1
 
Valtorta:
 
"The goodness of the Lord grants me the continuation of the Vision.2

Thus I see the baptism of the two brothers,3 certainly instructed by the Pontiff Urban and by Cecilia. I understand this because Valerian says in greeting Urban:

‘Now, therefore, you who have given me the knowledge of this glorious Faith, while my Cecilia gave me its sweetness, open to me the gates of Grace. That I may be of Christ in order to be like the angel whom He gave me for a wife and who has opened to me the heavenly ways in which I advance, forgetting all of the past. Do not delay any further, O Pontiff. I believe. And I burn to confess it for the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord.’
This he says in the presence of many Christians who seem very moved and jubilant, and who smile at the new Christian and at the happy Cecilia who holds him by the hand, standing between her husband and her brother-in-law. She is sparkling with the joy of this hour.

The catacomb church is all adorned for the ceremony. I recognize precious drapes and cups that were in Valerian’s dwelling. Certainly they have been donated for the occasion and for the beginning of a life of charity of these new Christians.

Valerian and Tiburtius are clothed in white without any [other] adornment. Cecilia too is all white and seems a beautiful angel.

There is no true and proper baptismal font. At least in this catacomb there is none. There is a very wide and very rich basin resting on a low tripod. Perhaps it was originally a perfume-burner in some patrician house, or an incense-burner. Now it makes a baptismal font. The gold laminations which streak the heavy silver of the basin with fretwork and large roses, shine in the light of numerous little lamps which the Christians have in their hands.

Cecilia leads the two [brothers] near the basin and stands at their side, while the Pontiff Urban, using one of the cups brought by Valerian, draws out the purifying water and pours it on their heads bowed over the basin, pronouncing the sacramental formula.4 Cecilia weeps with joy and I don’t know how to say where she is looking exactly, because her gaze, even while placing a caress on her redeemed husband, seems to see beyond [him] and to smile at something she alone sees.

There is no other ceremony. And this ends with a hymn and the blessing of the Pontiff. Valerian, with drops of water still in his dark and curly hair, receives the fraternal kiss of the Christians and their congratulations for having welcomed the Truth. [He says]:

‘I was not capable of so much, I, an unhappy pagan enveloped in error. All merit belongs to this, my sweet wife [Cecilia]. Her beauty and her grace had seduced me as a man. But her faith and her purity have seduced my spirit. I did not want to be unlike her, so I could love and understand her still more. She it was who made of me, irascible and sensual, that which you see: one who is meek and pure, and I hope, with her help, to grow always more in these ways. Now I see you, Angel of virginal whiteness, Angel of my wife, and I smile at you since you smile at me. Now I see you, Angelic Splendor!… The joy of contemplating you is far superior to any harshness of martyrdom. Cecilia, holy one, prepare me for this. On this robe I want to write with my blood the name of the Lamb.’
The assembly disbands and the Christians return to their dwellings.

Valerian’s dwelling shows many changes. There is still the richness of the statues and furnishings, but already much reduced, and above all, more chaste. Missing are the lararium5 and the braziers of incense before the gods. The more immodest statues have given place to other sculptured works which, being either representations of joyous children or of animals, appease the eye but do not offend modesty. It is a Christian house.

In the garden are gathered many of the poor, and the new Christians distribute provisions to them and purses with alms. There are no more slaves in the house, but servants, free and happy.

Cecilia passes by smiling and blessed, and I see her then sit down between her husband and brother-in-law and read them some sacred passages and answer their questions. And then, at Valerian’s urging, she sings some of the hymns which must be very pleasing to her husband. I understand why she is the patroness of music. Her voice is pliant and harmonious, and her hands run swiftly over the cithara or lyre, whatever it is, drawing from it harmonies like pearls falling down on thin crystal, and arpeggios worthy of the throat of a nightingale.

And I see nothing else because the Vision ceases for me on this harmony."

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– I I I –
 
Valtorta:

"[In the next Vision] I find Cecilia alone and I understand she is already persecuted by the Roman law.

The house appears devastated, stripped of whatever there was of richness. But this could be the work also of Christian spouses. The disorder instead makes one think that the persecutors had entered with violence and anger and had meddled with and rummaged through everything.

Cecilia is in a wide room, half-naked and praying fervently. She weeps, but without despair. A weeping caused by a Christian sorrow in which there is also fused supernatural comfort.

Two persons enter. ‘Peace to you, Cecilia,’ says a man about 50, full of dignity.

‘Peace to you, brother. My husband?…’

'His body rests in peace and his soul exults in God. The blood of the martyr -- rather of the martyrs -- has ascended as incense to the throne of the Lamb united to that of the converted persecutor. We have not been able to bring you his remains, in order not to have them fall into the hand of profaners.’

‘It is not necessary. My crown already descends. Soon I will be where my husband is. Pray, brothers, for my soul. And go. This house is no longer secure. Go, in order not to fall into the claws of the wolves so that the flock of Christ may not be without shepherds. You will know when it will be the hour to come, for me. Peace to you, brothers.’

From this I perceive that Cecilia was already under arrest. I don’t know why she was left in her house, but she is already virtually a prisoner.

The virgin prays, enveloped in a very vivid luminosity, and while some tears fall from her eyes, a heavenly smile opens her lips. It is a very beautiful contrast in which human sorrow appears fused with supernatural joy.

I am spared the scene of the martyrdom. I find Cecilia again in a kind of tower; I call it that because the surroundings are circular like a tower. Not wide surroundings, rather low, at least as they appear to me through a cloud of vapor which fills the area, and especially toward the top a cloud forms which inhibits seeing well. Cecilia is alone now also. She has already fallen down but is not yet in the pose which has been immortalized in the statue of the Maderna6 (it seems to me).

She is on her side, as if she slept. Her legs slightly bent, her arms gathered in a cross on her bosom, her eyes are closed, a slight panting in her breathing. Her lips, very purplish, move slightly. She prays certainly. She places her head on the mass of her half-made up hair as on a silken cushion. Her blood is not seen. It has dripped away through the holes in the pavement which is all perforated like a sieve. Only toward her head does the white marble show reddish rings at every hole, as if these holes had been tinted inside with red lead.

Cecilia does not groan, she does not weep. She prays. I have the impression that she fell that way when she was wounded, and that she has remained thus perhaps from the impossibility of raising her head, her neck especially, because the nerves are severed. Yet her life remains. When she feels that her life is about to escape, she makes a superhuman effort to move and get on her knees. But she only manages to make a half-turn on herself and fall in the position we see her with her head and her arms,7 on which she has uselessly propped herself, and which have slipped on the glossy marble without supporting her torso. In the place where her head was at first there appears a red stain of fresh blood, and her hair on the side of the wound is like a skein of purple threads, soaked as they are with blood.

The saint dies without any spasms, in a last act of faith, accomplished with her fingers instead of her mouth which can no longer speak. I do not see the expression of her face because it is against the ground. But she has surely died with a smile."

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 COMMENTARY ON THE VISIONS
JESUS:

"The Faith is a force that draws, and purity a song that seduces. You have seen the wonder of them.

Matrimony should be, not a school of corruption, but of elevation. Do not be lower than brute beasts which do not corrupt with useless lusts the act of begetting. Matrimony is a sacrament. As such it is, and should remain, holy, in order not to become a sacrilege. But even were it not a sacrament, it is always the most solemn act of human life whose fruit makes you nearly equal to the Creator of life; and as such it should at least be kept within a wholesome human morality. If it is not so kept, it becomes a crime and lust.
 
Two [persons] who love each other holily, from the beginning, are rare, because society is too corrupt. But matrimony is a mutual elevation. It should be such. The better spouse should be the source of elevation, not limiting himself to being good, but striving to join the other to goodness.

There is a phrase in the Canticle of Canticles which explains the charming power of virtue: ‘Draw me to you! We will run behind you to the fragrance of your perfumes.’8

The perfume of virtue. Cecilia had used nothing else. She did not go with threats and aloofness toward Valerian. She went as a spouse to present herself to her king, steeped in her merits as in so many fragrant oils. And with those she drew Valerian to the good.

‘Draw me to You,’ she said to Me throughout all her life, and especially in the hour in which she went to her marriage. Lost in Me, she was nothing more than a part of Christ. And as in a fragment of a particle the whole Christ is there,9 so in this virgin I was there, working and sanctifying as if I had been anew on the roads of the world.

‘Draw me to You, so that Valerian may feel You through me and we (see the love of a true wife) and we will run behind You.’ She does not limit herself to saying: ‘and I will run behind You because I cannot live anymore without feeling You.’ But she wants her mate to run to God together with her so that he too may have a holy nostalgia for the fragrance of Christ.

And she succeeds. Like the captain of a ship assailed by the waves – the world – she saves her dearest ones, and finally leaves the ship only when the harbor of peace is already opened for them. Then the task is finished. There remains but to bear witness again, beyond her life, to her own faith.

There is no more need of weeping. That was from a loving anxiety for the two who went to martyrdom and who, because they were men, could be tempted to recant. Now that they are saints in God, she weeps no more. Peace, prayer, and a shout, a mute shout of faith: ‘I believe in God One and Three.'

When one lives by faith, one dies with a splendor of faith in the heart and on the lips. When one lives by purity, one converts [others] without many words. The fragrance of virtue makes the world turn. Not all are converted. But the better in the world are. And that is enough.

When the actions of men are known it will be seen that, more than any high-sounding sermons, it was the virtues of the saints scattered over the earth that helped to sanctify. The saints: lovers of God."10

 Home

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NOTES

1. Maria Valtorta, I Quaderni del 1944 (Edizioni Pisani / Centro Editoriale Valtortiano srl, Via Po 95, 03036 Isola del Liri (FR), Italia, 1985): 534-539. [Valtorta is again here describing this Vision to her spiritual director, Fr. Romuald Migliorini, OSM.]  
2. That is, of the preceding Vision [ I ] above, of July 22, 1944.
3. "…of the two brothers": That is of Valerian and his brother Tiburtius, as specified in the Commentary by Christ following Vision I above.
4. "…the sacramental formula": This would probably be the traditional formula: "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
5. "Lararium": A household shrine to the deified ancestors of a particular Roman family.
6. "Maderna": [the Editor]: "The celebrated statue [by the sculptor Steven Maderna] is admired in the church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, in Rome.
7. "…the position that we see her": that is, in the Maderna sculpture, which depicts St. Cecilia in the prone position lying on her side as Valtorta describes above.
8. Canticle of Canticles 1:4 (Vulgate, 1:3).
9. "…a fragment of a particle": the traditional Catholic belief that in the consecrated Eucharistic Bread, the whole Christ is present in the smallest particle.
10. In a subsequent Dictation to Valtorta on September 6th, 194411 Christ infers her own sanctity and virtually canonizes her, equating her martyrdom as a victim soul in our day with that of Cecilia:

"When I showed you the virgin-spouse Cecilia, I said to you that she was impregnated with My perfumes and behind them had drawn her husband [Valerian], her brother-in-law [Tiburtius], her servants, relatives, friends. Though you do not know it – but I say it to you, I Who know – You yourself have played the part of Cecilia in this insane world. You have saturated yourself with Me, with My words, You have brought My desires among [various] persons, and the better ones have understood and many, many have thereby been drawn behind you, a victim. And if there is not a complete ruin of your fatherland and of the places very dear to you,12 it is because many victims have been consummated after your example and your ministry.

Thank you, blessed [soul]. But continue yet. I have much need of saving the earth. Of buying back the earth. You, victims, are yourselves the money. Wisdom Who has instructed the saints, and instructs you with direct teaching, lifts you up always more in understanding the science of Life and in practicing it. Do you also pitch your little tent near the house of the Lord. Drive in the [tent] pegs of your own dwelling in the dwelling of Wisdom, and dwell there without ever going out of it. Like a bird among flowery branches, you will rest beneath the protection of the Lord Who loves you; and He will make a shelter for you from every spiritual tempest, and you will be in the light of the glory of the Lord from which will descend, through you, words of peace and truth. Go in peace. I bless you, blessed [soul]."

11. Ibid., 648.
12. "…complete ruin of your fatherland …dear to you...": that is, from the 2nd World War then in progress.