Speaking to about 7,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Pontiff noted that St. Catherine (1347- 1380)—who is now revered as a Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe—developed a wide reputation for sanctity very early in her life. Many people sought her advice, and “she became intensely active in the spiritual counseling of many categories of peoples: nobles, politicians, artists, common people, consecrated persons, ecclesiastics, and even Pope Gregory XI.”
St. Catherine was not afraid to identify abuses in the Church and call for reform. But the Pope observed that “though aware of the human failings of the clergy, she always had the greatest reverence for them, because through the Sacraments and the Word they dispense the salvific power of the Blood of Christ.”
The great saint also had the “gift of tears,” indicating an unusual sensitivity of conscience and a depth of compassion, the Pope remarked. He reminded his audience that Jesus wept openly at the death of his friend Lazarus.
Pope Benedict summarized the spirituality of St. Catherine of Siena with the observation: “For her, Christ was as a bridegroom with whom she maintained a relationship of intimacy, communion and fidelity.” The Pope suggested: “Like the saint of Siena, all believers feel the need to conform themselves to the sentiments of Christ's Heart, in order to love God and neighbor as Christ Himself loves.”
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