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Catherine Benincasa was born in Siena, Tuscany, in 1347. The twenty-third child of Giacomo, a well-to-do dyer, and his wife Lapa, the lively and happy girl grew up in the Benincasa’s spacious house. Their family home is preserved to this day.

At six years of age, Catherine saw Our Lord Jesus dressed as a Pontiff atop the Church of the Dominicans. This vision left such a deep impression upon her that she pledged herself to Christ.

Under family pressure, when she turned twelve, Catherine consented to pay more attention to her appearance and had her beautiful hair dressed to the fashion of the day. Repenting of this “great sin”, she cut it all off and declared she would never marry – a scandal to her family. She was set to menial labor, and harried and scolded continuously in an attempt to break her resolve. One day her father found her praying, a dove hovering over her. From that moment he ordered that she be left alone to a life of prayer.

Received into the Dominican Order as a tertiary in 1366, Catherine had a vision in which Jesus, accompanied by His Blessed Mother, officially betrothed her and placed a ring on her finger.

After this mystical betrothal, she was told that her seclusion was over and she must mingle with her fellow human beings seeking their salvation. Gradually, there gathered around her a group of followers whom she guided in the spiritual life. As her renown for holiness grew and the fame of her miracles spread, former suspicion turned to veneration.

Catherine became the arbiter of a serious feud between Florence and Perugia and the Holy See then at Avignon, France. She visited Pope Gregory XI and convinced him to return to Rome. Finally, through her mediation the cities were reconciled to the Holy See.

Around this time she produced the great work – later entitled “Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena” – which she dictated under the inspiration of God the Father.

With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, and the election of Urban VI, the cardinals in Avignon disputed the choice and elected a rival pope giving rise to the great schism. Catherine spared no effort in establishing recognition of Urban. Far from resenting her help, he called the holy mystic to Rome to profit from her advice.

But early in 1380, thirty-three year old Catherine suffered a strange seizure after she offered herself as a victim for the healing of the Church. On April 29, after much suffering, Catherine gave up her ardent soul to her Divine Spouse.

She was canonized in 1461 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for December 6, 2019

The people of this world are wary of evil-doing for fear of...

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December 6

 

The people of this world are wary of evil-doing
for fear of temporal punishment.
How much more, then, should they be wary for fear of
the punishment of Hell, which is greater,
both in respect to its severity and in respect to its manifold nature:
Remember thy last end, and thou shall never sin.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Nicholas of Bari

He suffered imprisonment for his faith and made a glorious c...

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St. Nicholas of Bari

Nicholas is thought to have been born in Patara, Lycia, a province of Asia Minor. Myra was the capital, close to the ocean, and an episcopal see. When the see became vacant, Nicholas was chosen bishop and became famous and beloved for his extraordinary piety, zeal and many astonishing miracles.

He suffered imprisonment for his faith and made a glorious confession during the persecution of Diocletian.

He was also present at the Council of Nicaea and there condemned Arianism. St. Methodius asserts that thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, Myra alone was untouched by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Legend has it that the tradition of gift giving attached to St. Nicholas comes from the fact that he once helped a father and his three daughters. Hearing that they were destitute, and therefore could find no husbands, he slipped a bag of gold through the family’s window under the cover of darkness. At intervals, he did the same for the second and third girl, saving all three from a life of want and shame.

Nicholas died and was buried in his city of Myra, and by the time of Justinian, there was already a basilica built in his honor in Constantinople. Later, his relics were moved to the city of Bari, Italy, and many miracles were attributed to his intercession.

The devotion to St. Nicholas spread not only in the East but also in the West, and his image was amply reproduced, second only to that of Our Lady. In the later Middle Ages, there were nearly four hundred churches in England alone dedicated to him. In the East, St. Nicholas is venerated as patron of sailors, and in the West, of children.

In several European countries he is beloved as the pre-Christmas “gift giver”. The modern “Santa Claus” is a secular corruption of the saint.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged t...

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The Heavenly Baker

In the time when Saint Catherine of Siena walked the streets of her quaint medieval town, she sometimes stayed at the house of a widow-friend, Alessia, to avoid the distractions of her noisy home.

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat. The bread made from this wheat had a sour after-taste. But as the new harvest came in, and there was fresh wheat to buy, Alessia remarked to St. Catherine:

“Mother, this old wheat makes sour bread, so as the Lord has had pity on us, I will throw away the little that I still have.”

“You wish to throw away what the Lord has given us for our food?” replied Catherine, “at least give it to those who don’t even have that.”

“O, I feel guilty giving from the old wheat…I’d rather give from the new, fresh batch,” remonstrated Alessia.

Saint Catherine then asked that she give her the flour and some water, for she wished to make bread for the poor of Our Lord.

As Catherine worked, not only did she produce an astounding number of loaves from so little flour, but turned them out so fast that Alessia and her maid couldn’t believe their eyes.

Served at table, everyone was amazed how delicious and sweet these loaves were. “We haven’t tasted better!” they exclaimed. 

Moreover, when taken out to the poor and to the Friars, the bin kept giving without emptying.

Sometime later, on hearing of this miracle, St. Catherine’s confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, sensed that there was something “more” to this story, and pressed his spiritual child to tell him all.

So Catherine explained that as she had approached the flour box, she had seen the sweet Lady Mary standing there with several angels and saints graciously offering to help her make the bread.  So Mary Most Holy began to work the dough with Catherine, and by virtue of those immaculate hands not only was the wheat made sweet, but the number of loaves multiplied. 

“The Madonna herself gave me the loaves as she made them,” related Catherine, “and I passed them onto Alessia and her maid.”

“No wonder,” writes Blessed Raymond in his biography of Saint Catherine, “that that bread seemed so sweet , since it was made by the perfect hands of the holy queen, in whose most sacred body, the Trinity made the Bread that came down from heaven to give life to all unbelievers.”

And the same writer asserts that years after in Siena, people still treasured pieces of this blessed bread as relics. 

 

Taken from The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua - By Andrea F. Phillips

 

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One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat.

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