Madonna and Child with Saints Cecilia, Valerian, and Tibertius
23.5 cm x 30.16 cm (9 1/4 in. x 11 7/8 in.)
(Tours, France, 1593 - 1670, Paris, France)
Medium and Support:
Oil on copper
The Suida-Manning Collection
As the patron saint of music, Cecilia is typically depicted with an instrument; here a small pipe organ. To indicate her purity and devotion, Claude Vignon placed Cecilia at the feet of Mary, who appears as royalty, illuminating the scene with a golden crown. Saints Valerian and Tiburtius hold palms of martyrdom as Cecilia gazes upon baby Jesus.
A devout Christian from youth, Cecilia took a vow of chastity before being betrothed to Valerian, a Roman nobleman. She lamented the match, invoking the saints to protect her virginity. Before consummation, she informed Valerian of her vow, claiming that she was protected by an angel whom he could see only if baptized. Valerian was baptized and returned to see the angel crowning Cecilia with a chaplet of rose and lily. Cecilia, Valerian, and his brother Tiburtius were all martyred by order of the Roman governor Almachius.