Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians and church music. Her feast day is celebrated on November 22 by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. She is said to have died between 176 and 180 in Sicily during the rule of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Her body was discovered incorrupt, meaning that it had not decayed or decomposed, in 1599. Her body is the first instance of incorruption.
Legend says that she married a nobleman, Valerian of Trastevere; however, she wishes to remain a virtue. On her wedding day, the musical instruments played, but she sang in her heart to God asking for a pure heart and body. When Valerian and Cecilia entered the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerian that she was engaged to an angel who guarded her. He should, therefore, not take her virginity. He asked for proof of the angel, and Cecilia said that if he believed in God and was baptized, he would see the angel. He went to be baptized, and when he returned he saw her praying and an angel guarding her. Valerian then told his brother Tiburtius, who soon wished to be baptized as well.
The newly baptized brothers began to give aid to families who could no longer support themselves because of the martyrdom of their fathers, spouses, and sons. They were eventually arrested and brought to the prefect Almachius. They were told to perform a sacrifice to the gods; however, they refused to do so and were executed. Cecilia buried them and was arrested for doing so.
The officials tried to suffocated Cecilia in her own bathroom; however, she survived. She was supposed to then be beheaded. The officials were unsuccessful three times, and she said that she would not die until she received the Eucharist. For the next three days, she sang songs to God while her friends and family watched on. She died at the end of these three days.
A body may not be claimed to be incorruptible if the body has undergone an embalming. In Roman Catholicism, not every saint is expected to have an incorruptible body.
There are two theories regarding how a body may be incorruptible. The first, a physical cause, argues that decay has been slowed because of environmental condition, such as a cool and dry burial ground. The second, a spiritual cause, argues that the piety of the person preserved the flesh or that decay was prevented by God.