St Cecilia Window

This window depicts St Caecilia and in the panel below Caecilia, Valerian and the Angel (an apocryphal addition to the story of the martyrdom of St Caecilia).  Popular legend says that St Caecilia (Third Century) was the daughter of a Roman patrician who brought her up as a Christian.  During her lifetime she was reputed to be so close to heaven that she could hear the singing of angels; it was also said she could play any musical instrument.  These gifts, however, were not enough to give expression to the musical flood of heavenly melody that fired the soul and so she invented the organ, which she consecrated to the service of God.  She is, for this reason, the patron saint of music and musicians.

Caecilia married Valerian, a nobleman, who himself was converted to Christianity after she sent him to see St Urban working with the Christians in the catacombs.  On his return to Caecilia he found, standing in her presence, an angel bearing two crowns of flowers.  The angel placed the crown of lilies upon the head of Caecilia and the crown of roses upon the head of Valerian.  Through the ministrations of the angel, Valerian’s brother, Tiburtius, also converted and first the two brothers and then Caecilia were executed for their faith.  The window was installed in memory of Amy Mary Countess of March and Kinrara (first wife of the Earl of March, later the 7th Duke of Richmond) whose love of, and talent for, music was renowned.

The Inscription at the top reads:

Cilicio caecilia membras domabat
Caecilia was in the habit of mortifying the flesh with a hair-shirt

The Inscription at the bottom reads:
Amy Mary Countess of March died August 23rd, 1879

 


Amy Mary Countess of March and Kinrara (1848-1879). Picture courtesy of Goodwood Estate.

Amy Mary Ricardo was born on October 10th, 1848.  She was the eldest daughter of Percy Ricardo of Bramley Park, Guildford Surrey, by his wife, Matilda Hensley.  She married Charles Henry, Earl of March (later the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon) on November 10th, 1868 at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge.

The Countess was a gifted musician and often played the organ during services at Gordon Chapel.  Indeed, she played the organ during the re-dedication ceremony in 1874.

She died, after a lingering illness, at their residence in Grosvenor Crescent on August 23, 1879 and was buried in Chichester Cathedral.  Her musical gifts were commemorated in Gordon Chapel by the installation of the St Caecilia window in her memory.

She left three sons and two daughters, Evelyn Amy (1872-1922) who married Sir John Cotterell, 4th Bart., and Violet Mary (1874-1946) who married the 1st Lord Brassey of Apethorpe.