March 27, 2017

Saint Catherine of Bologna, Patron Saint of Artists

Saint Catherine of Bologna

March 28th, is the optional memorial of Saint Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463), the 15th century sister, virgin, mystic, miracle worker and patron saint of artists and those facing temptation. Little is known of her formative years. She was born in Bologna, and served as the maid of honor to the Marquis of Ferrara's daughter. (Catherine’s father was an adviser to the Marquis.) Catherine took residence in the palace, and became friends with her mistress, Margaret. When Margaret became engaged, she asked Catherine to remain. Catherine instead perused her religious vocation. At age 14, she dedicated her life to God and entered the Third Order of the Franciscans where she lived as part of a semi-monastic community.

Four years later, the community of women in Ferrara to which Catherine belonged joined the Order of the Poor Clares. Catherine continued in prayerful poverty and obedience, joyfully serving the Lord. She held numerous positions, working as a laundress, dressmaker, breadmaker, tending to the community's farm animals and as the novice mistress. However, Catherine felt that the community's rule was not strict enough. Eventually, she and fifteen of her fellow sisters established another more austere convent in Bologna, where she was appointed the Abbess.

St. Catherine was blessed with many spiritual gifts, which manifest themselves early in her religious life and persisting until her death. A mystic, she received visions of the Blessed Mother, Christ crucified, as well as being tormented by the Devil, who tempted her mercilessly. These she recorded in Latin, to share with the sisters of her Order for their spiritual direction and enlightenment. In her writings, Catherine provides insights into the battle between God’s goodness and Satan’s lies that sow doubt, sin and death. Her noted work, the autobiographical Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare, vividly describes at length her visions and offers insight for living in imitation of Christ.

At the beginning of 1463, her health deteriorated. Despite suffering greatly, she assured her sisters that she would help them from Heaven. After receiving the last Sacraments, she gave her confessor the manuscript for her book. Finally, on March 9, 1463, her face became tranquil and she died peacefully, repeating three times the name of Jesus. She was canonized by Pope Clement XI on May 22, 1712. Her incorrupt body rests in the chapel of the monastery of Corpus Domini in the city of Bologna. From Pope Benedict XVI's address on her life and witness:

"[St Catherine], like us, suffered temptations, she suffered the temptations of disbelief, of sensuality, of a difficult spiritual struggle. She felt forsaken by God, she found herself in the darkness of faith. Yet in all these situations she was always holding the Lord’s hand, she did not leave him, she did not abandon him. And walking hand in hand with the Lord, she walked on the right path and found the way of light." St Catherine, pray that we find our peace in Christ, as you did.

No comments :