Thursday was a day full of graces. We began with a pilgrimage through the streets to enter the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. Choir member Zach Worthing carried the cross before us as we walked and sang. It was a blessing to realize we are not alone in our faith. Passersby gathered along the way, smiling, filming, and some even following us to the Holy Door.
Meet Sister Margaret, our gracious host at the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, where we ventured on Thursday afternoon to pay homage to our patroness, St. Cecilia. We were honored and humbled to share our songs in Cecilia’s resting place. The afternoon began with a prayer service led by our chaplain, Fr. John Pietramale, to offer intercessions for the Holy Father, for the Church, for the Benedictine sisters of the Basilica of St. Cecilia, for the pilgrims, and for all the intentions of our own St. Cecilia parish, friends, and loved ones.
Sister Margaret shared with us the story of St. Cecilia’s life and martyrdom before leading us into the tomb where we were each able to reverence her remains. The beautiful vaulted chamber was so still as we entered. After all the pilgrims had paid their respects, we began to sing, and the room bloomed with joyful faces and rich harmony. O Cecilia, Be Joyful!
If that were not enough, we were then offered a unique honor. Sister Margaret led us into the monastery, where we were conducted by a silent little sister through a private elevator to the prayer room containing the Cavellini fresco of Christ Enthroned at the Last Judgement. This room is more than a precious museum collection. It is a place for devotion. I could not look away from Christ whose wounds still appear to flow, pouring out his mercy.
Returning to the Basilica, we joined the cloistered sisters as they observed Vespers. At the close of Vespers, we sang our hymns for St. Cecilia for the sisters. We were delighted when they emerged from behind the screen to greet us individually, and we pledged to continue the bond we have begun.
The evening ended with a sumptuous banquet and cheerful fellowship. What a wonderful day.