31.3.08

St. Catherine of Siena

Dominican tertiary, born at Seina, 25 March 1347, Died in the odor of sanctity, 29 April 1380. She was 33. The same age as Christ at her death. Her body though dismembered for relics remains incorrupt.

The Patron Saint of my Parish is having her feast this month, therefore to kick things off I am starting off the month St Catherine. This great and Holy woman, a Doctor of the Church, did great things for our faith, that even in the short synopsis of her radiance, a reflection of the light of Christ, shines through.

Catherine, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic.

Unbelievable were her austerities, her miracles, her ecstasies. The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages. The virgin Catherine was espoused to Christ by a precious nuptial ring which, although visible only to her, always remained on her finger.

Patron: Against fire; bodily ills; Europe; fire prevention; firefighters; illness; Italy; miscarriages; nurses; nursing services; people ridiculed for their piety; sexual temptation; sick people; sickness; Siena, Italy; temptations.

Symbols: Cross; heart; lily; ring; stigmata.

Catherine dictated from memory The Dialogue (here.) in five days before she left Siena forever. It is her account of her visions. She was clairaudient and clairvoyant, also awareness of communion with Jesus. She was illiterate, but yearning to be able to read the breviary, when suddenly she could read--either through the help of Father Tommaso della Fonte or Alessia Saracini (her friend), or through a miracle.

In art, Saint Catherine is always portrayed as a Dominican tertiary (white habit, black mantle, white veil) with a stigmata, lily, and book. Sometimes she is portrayed with a crown of thorns and a crucifix; with her heart on a book; with her heart at her feet and a scourge or skull, book, and lily; with the devil under her feet; crowned by angels with three crowns; celebrating her mystic marriage with Christ; giving clothes to a beggar, who is really Christ. Catherine is the patron of Italy together with St. Francis of Assisi.

Prayer for the Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that commemorating the Heavenly birthday of blessed Catherine, Thy virgin, we may both rejoice on her yearly festival and benefit by the example of so great a virtue. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.
Amen.

St Catherine of Siena, Clarksville, Virginia

Dieu le Roi.
de Brantigny

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