Today, March 28, 2015, the Universal Church celebrates St. Catherine of Bologna, artist, prioress and warrior.
She was born in Bologna, and was related to the nobility in Ferrara, wherein she received a classical and/or liberal education at court, which motivated her to exercise her talent in art, through painting. When she was 17, she joined a religious entity of women in Ferrara, wherein subsequently all of these same women joined the Poor Clares. Catherine served as the baker and portress before she was selected to an administrative role as the novice mistress.
On July 22, 1456, Catherine and 17 other sisters left Ferrara to establish a new Corpus Domini monastery in Bologna. At this juncture in her life, Catherine was appointed the abbess. She was known by her great holiness, and because of her incredible Christ-like example, many other women joined the monastery and/or the Poor Clares Order. Catherine found her closeness to God through prayer, charity to her sisters and to her neighbors and doing penance. Her life was like that of the Little Flower, St. Therese, in that she lived her life not in public, but in the environment of a monastery, showing her great love of Our Lord in doing all things, especially little endeavors, with utmost love. Catherine remained abbess at this monastery until her death.
In 1438, Catherine wrote her Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare — a book on seven spiritual weapons which she suggested we use when the devil tempts us. Part of the book describes at length her visions both of God and of Satan. She said:
“Jesus Christ gave up his life that we might live. Therefore, whoever wishes to carry the cross for his sake must take up the proper weapons for the contest, especially those mentioned here. First, diligence; second, distrust of self; third, confidence in God; fourth, remembrance of the Passion; fifth, mindfulness of one’s own death; sixth, remembrance of God’s glory; and seventh, the injunctions of Sacred Scripture following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert.”
St. Catherine is one of the saints whose bodies remain incorrupt. From the website of the St. Catherine of Bologna parish in Ringwood, New Jersey:
Many miracles began immediately [after Catharine’s death], nuns and townsfolk were miraculously healed. Even after her own death a miracle happened: a sweet scent seemed to come from the monastery’s courtyard. Catharine’s body was exhumed 18 days later. The air filled with an intense and indescribable perfume. Her body was incorrupt…. Many miracles happened to those who invoked her intercession. So in 1475 the nuns placed her body in a chair in [the chapel of the Poor Clares in Bologna, next to the church of Corpus Domini] where she can still be seen today.
St. Catherine was canonized in 1712 and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of artists and against temptations. We should ask St. Catherine for her assistance in being spiritual warriors in our lives. God knows it is certainly relevant now, especially to the writers in the Fellowship and its leader, Dr. Eowyn. May all of us perform charity in our little ways, and by all means, trusting in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I hope that everyone has a beautiful day!
Respectfully, your servant, Joan
Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia; Franciscan Media