Cecilia was originally known by the Spanish as La Punta, describing a deep bend in Bayou Teche. This was translated by the French into La Grande Pointe, a name that was used by many people until modern times when it was then called Cecilia, named after the first postal clerk. The community began as a small service center of sorts for the many landowners in outlying areas. As more settlers populated the land along the northern Bayou Teche, the need grew for easier access to religious services, education, and trade. It was because of these basic needs that the community became more than a crossover on the bayou trail between Opelousas and St. Martinville,

Pierre Guidry, the first settler of Cecilia, acquired three tracts of land from Mrs. Joseph Alexander Declouet in 1791. Joseph Angelle settled nearby soon after.

Both men apparently settled on lands that had been given to Declouet by a Spanish land grant dated May 16, 1772, that included some 2,600 acres (11 km2) of land.

Grover Rees I, in his history of Breaux Bridge, describes Guidry's land as "fronting 50 arpents on Bayou Teche and 50 arpents deep, for which he agreed to deliver in payment 100 bulls." Guidry married three times and fathered 20 children, many of whom remained in the area and established their own farms.

There was a chapel at La Grande Pointe sometime after 1874. Some sources say that it was named for St. Etienne, but that is not a certainty. In January 1889, Father Borias of Breaux Bridge wrote that "the chapel was originally located about midway between the Four Corners and Grand Anse area, but later was moved closer to what is now Cecilia." A church parish was created at Cecilia in 1890 and Rev. Augustin Blanc became first pastor. He would serve there for more than 38 years. St. Rose of Lima Church was established there for the African American congregation in 1944.

During the Civil War, the settlement was also known as La Place. This name was dropped when postal authorities began to confuse it with the LaPlace in St. John the Baptist Parish.

There are several stories about how the place was named Cecilia, the most accepted being that it was named for Cecilia Lastrappes, the first postmistress there.

Located 4 miles south of Arnaudville, Louisiana on property originally owned by Martin Milony Duralde, a French Basque native of Aix Les Bains, Bayonne Biscaye, France who arrived in Louisiana in 1769, lies the Stephanie Plantation House. Duralde moved to the property in 1781 and lived in a log cabin on the banks of Bayou Teche until the house was built. He was appointed Commandant of the Opelousas Post in 1795 by Baron de Carondelet, Spanish Governor of Colonial Louisiana. After his death in 1822, the property was sold to a fellow Basque Charles Henri Lastrapes, the wealthiest man in southwest Louisiana at that time, who expanded the holdings to some 50,000 acres. In 1882, in a bankruptcy sale, the property was sold to a New Orleans cotton factor. In 1889 the Huran Planting Co. obtained Stephanie. The house changed hands several times before its recent purchase by the Kidder family in 1997.