I was so busy yesterday I did not get time to write a post and I really wanted to do so to celebrate the feast of St Catherine of Siena.
The more I read about this lady the more I like her and the more I realise she is a major figure in the history of humanity. A woman who was led into the heart of God and there became an instrument of peace and reform, and one of the Church's most extraordinary teachers. She was the second woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church, shortly after St Teresa of Avila was proclaimed the first.
Much has been written about Catherine, every aspect of her life has been examined at a microscopic level, and she continues to fascinate. Her miraculous fast has attracted a lot of attention - not all of it good, but for those who are aware of other mystics who lived on the Eucharist she is typical. Some maintain that she suffered from anorexia - I'm not inclined to accept it because if she did she would have died much sooner than she did and would have been unable to carry out her work. Almost to the end, Catherine was surging forward in her mission.
For those of you who have visited Rome you will know the statue of Catherine beside the Castel Sant'Angelo. Erected by the Venerable Pope Pius XII it commemorates her being proclaimed the Co-Patron of Italy. The statue is remarkable in that it sums up her determination: here is a woman ready to jump at a challenge, a woman with a clear vision, a woman who knows what she has to do and is going to do it. Here, also, is a woman radiant in faith. Those who met her in life testified to all these things: it must have been wonderful to have met her. But like all who are holy, she attracted some and discomforted others making enemies. I would love to lived in her days to have seen her in action. Again, here am I wishing I had a time machine! Ah well, I will just have to keep trying to get into heaven.
If you are looking for a good biography, I would recommend the one written by Sigrid Undset, published by Ignatius Press. Undset, a Swede who converted to Catholicism, has been given a remarkable insight into the life and personality of St Catherine.
Let us pray to St Catherine for the Church in these times, commending Pope Francis to her care, and also for Europe, of which she is patron. With so many challenges to the faith, we need her to help us keep our sights on Christ and not lose hope.