Saint Cecilia from A Book of Saints, Anness Publishing Ltd.
And you thought I would have a picture of Saint Patrick to start off my series on Saint Patrick’s Day and all things Irish! He will show up here sooner or later, but I first wanted to write about another saint who is very important to me: Saint Cecilia. Cecilia is the patron saint of music, martyred in the 3rd century. This is her story from the Domenico Zipoli Institute:
The story of St. Cecilia is by itself a romance. Cecilia was a maiden of noble birth, and at an early age, she dedicated her life to God with a vow of chastity. She, however, was betrothed and married to a young noble named Valerian. On her wedding day, she prayed to the Lord and asked Him to protect her virginity. History records, “The day on which the wedding was to be held arrived and while musical instruments were playing she was singing in her heart to God alone saying: Make my heart and my body pure that I may not be confounded.” Her husband agreed to respect her vow. At this time, Christianity was still illegal in Rome, and after her husband was executed, Cecilia was also sentenced to death. It required two attempts, however. She was first locked in a bath in her own home to be suffocated by the steam. When she emerged from the bath unharmed, she was then beheaded. The stroke of the axe failed to sever her head from her body, however, and she lived for three days, and was said to sing throughout the ordeal.
Obviously, Cecilia was a Roman, not Irish. Being the patron saint of music is what brought her to me, and I named my pub after her. It was a grand pub, with music, poetry, theater, story telling, sessions, salon night, good food, and just a wee bit of drink. I wrote a newsletter that included a calendar of events every month, that went out to a large mailing list. Great memories of a fun time. Milwaukee has a fairly large Irish community, as well as the largest Irish Musical Festival in the world at the Summerfest grounds every summer. There was a lot of support and wonderful patronage during the life of Cecilia’s Pub.
Friend and poet James Liddy, who recently succumbed to cancer, wrote this poem for Cecilia:
Ode to Cecilia’s Pub
Bless this public house and those who thirst.
I enter a supplicant suitor tactican.
Bless new world pints.
When I was a neophyte
pubs had no couches or barwomen,
They had politics one of the true religions.
Women had lounges, where they drank
And thus voted. I voted the arts
And met them, their eyes and elbows.
Parents said they spend 40% of income
In these places – I inherit liberation,
libation is liberation.
I adore the look of vacant bar stools.
I pray to Saints Dionysius and Cecilia.
At midnight the cry is
the bridegroom comes.
A bartender is the flower on the far side
of the counter, friends flowers on this side.
Enter into the heart… that is illumination.
Ordinary karma void filled
with sustainable soul and body.
I’ve fallen for a polished wood counter,
green, walls, a vista to the jakes.
Another round of pints, Michael.
How many pouring hours to close?
St. Love the bartender delivers the answer.
November 22. 1998
There was Guinness Stout, Beamish Stout, Harp Lager, Newcastle Brown Ale, Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter, Tullamore Dew, Power, Jameson 1780…. and Potcheen. Now that was some nasty stuff. My eyes water thinking about it! One of many special events was an evening called Black Velvet Night. Special drinks were served up during that celebration, including Black Velvet (Guinness and champagne), Half and Half (that’s the one made with Harp), Black and Tan (the one made with Bass), Purple Meany (Guinness with a shot of cassis), and my favorite, Golden Cream. After the head on the Guinness totally settles, you add several scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Yum!