St. Catherine lived in Siena, Italy, in the 14 century. An ardent disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, She joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and spent her short life praying, writing, and serving the poor, the sick, and the Catholic Church.
Catherine received private revelations from God the Father, which are recorded in The Dialogues. Some words of the Heavenly Father especially relevant to the Church in today’s world are these: “The sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them” (Dialogue 116).
The Lord also told her: “The reverence you pay to [priests] is not actually paid to them but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry. If this were not so, you should pay them as much reverence as to anyone else, and no more. It is this ministry of theirs that dictates that you should reverence them and come to them, not for what they are in themselves but for the power I have entrusted to them, if you would receive the sacraments of the Church….
“So the reverence belongs not to the ministers, but to me and to this glorious blood made one thing with me because of the union of divinity with humanity. And just as the reverence is done to me, so also is the irreverence, for I have already told you that you must not reverence them for themselves, but for the authority I have entrusted to them. Therefore you must not sin against them, because if you do, you are really sinning not against them but against me. This I have forbidden, and I have said that it is my will that no one should touch them” (Dialogue 116).
To encourage them to follow God’s will, this humble saint sent letters to many of her contemporaries, including popes and secular rulers. In fact, she was able to persuade Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome after the popes had resided at Avignon instead of Rome for almost 70 years.
This holy saint was a great lover of the Holy Eucharist; Pope Benedict XVI makes mention of this in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. She loved to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. “O You who are mad about Your creature! True God and true Man, You have left Yourself wholly to us, as food, so that we will not fall through weariness during our pilgrimage in this life, but will be fortified by You, celestial nourishment.”
“O loving, tender Word of God, You tell me: ‘I have marked the path and opened the gate with My Blood; do not be negligent in following it, but take the same road which I, eternal Truth, have traced out with My Blood.’ Arise, my soul, and follow your Redeemer, for no one can go to the Father but by Him. O sweet Christ, Christ-Love, You are the way, and the door through which we must enter in order to reach the Father.”
“O unfathomable depth! O Deity eternal! O deep ocean! What more could You give me than to give me Yourself?” (All three quotes above are from St. Catherine of Siena.)
What can we learn from St. Catherine? In Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience where he spoke about St. Catherine, he stated: “Like the Sienese saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed with the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and his neighbor as Christ himself loves.
And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ in a familiarity with him that is nourished by prayer, by meditation on the Word of God and by the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion.”
St. Catherine of Siena died on April 29, 1380, at the age of 33. Her feast day is April 29, and she was named patron saint of Rome and of Italy (along with St. Francis of Assisi), and of Europe. She is also the patron of journalists and media. Catherine was canonized in 1461, and in 1970 Pope Paul VI (now St. Paul VI) named her a Doctor of the Church.
What is a Doctor of the Church? “The Doctors of the Church are men and women who are revered by the Church for the special value of their writings and preaching and the sanctity of their lives. A Doctor is named by a special decree of the Pope or an Ecumenical Council. They each made important and lasting contributions to the Faith and are to be recognized for their great merits. Initially, the Doctors were considered the Church Fathers Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, but the Church added others to the list over the centuries” (EWTN website).
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
The prayers below were written by Saint Catherine of Siena. May they help you grow closer to Our Lord!
St. Catherine of Siena Prayers
Holy Spirit, come into my heart;
draw it to Thee by Thy power, O my God,
and grant me charity with filial fear.
Preserve me, O beautiful Love, from every evil thought;
warm me, inflame me with Thy dear love,
and every pain will seem light to me.
My Father, my sweet Lord, help me in all my actions.
Jesus, love, Jesus, love. Amen.
Eternal God, eternal Trinity,
You have made the Blood of Christ so precious
through His sharing in Your Divine nature.
You are a mystery as deep as the sea;
the more I search, the more I find,
and the more I find, the more I search for You.
But I can never be satisfied;
what I receive will ever leave me desiring more.
When You fill my soul, I have an ever greater hunger,
and I grow more famished for Your light.
I desire above all to see You,
the true Light, as you really are. Amen.