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The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Cecilia Timeline and Summary

  • Cecilia, a Roman noblewoman, longs to live her Christian faith by remaining unstained for her entire life.
  • When she is forced to marry, she converts her husband to Christianity.
  • Before her husband's brother converts, Cecilia teaches him about Christian theology.
  • When her husband and his brother-in-law are about to be beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter, Cecilia encourages them to stand up for their faith.
  • The prefect Almachius calls Cecilia before him to question her on matters of faith. Cecilia calls him foolish and powerless and his gods worthless. She refuses to sacrifice to them.
  • Almachius tries to kill Cecilia by having her boiled in a cauldron, but this doesn't cause Cecilia the slightest discomfort.
  • Almachius sends an executioner to cut Cecilia's head off, but he is unable to do it after three attempts and is not allowed to take a fourth.
  • Cecilia lives with her head dangling from her body for three days, preaching and teaching to her followers all the while.
  • After her death, Pope Urban consecrates Cecilia's house as a church.