The striking image on the cover is a detail of a painting attributed to early baroque painter Carlo Saraceni. The painting is called Saint Cecilia and the Angel and can be found in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Rome.
Cecilia live around 200 in Rome, in a time when Christians were still being prosecuted under Roman law. During her marriage it was said she was singing to the Lord, and that sentence alone made her into the patron saints of musicians. She was married to Valerian, who was not a Christian, but she forced him to convert by telling him only in that way he could see the angel that was guarding her virginity. He did, and he saw.
She died shortly after her husband, all for being Christian. She kept clinging to life though: it was said that she still lived after the executioner hit her three times with his sword, trying to behead her. It must have been the same angel to protect her. These are the stories that are told about these martyrs, but Cecilia is one of the first and best known. Her career as a saint was very successful, and her body can now be found in the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599 it was discovered that it was lying there, not having aged at all (“incorrupt”).
I devoted some time of my studies to these hagiographic stories. This is a huge tradition in the Middle Ages and long thereafter. There is not much historical value in them, except maybe for the circumstances in which they happened. The Christians really were persecuted during this time.