Catherine of Siena, 1347-1379. Doctor of Unity, Feast April
What Catherine accomplished for Catholicism is
unprecedented and perhaps the greatest milestone for the Catholic
Church. To be graced with union and unity with God is the most
ardent of Jesus' wishes: "that all may be one ." This is the most
blessed state of heaven on earth: "thy kingdom come, thy will be
Our saint who was not a nun, but a laywoman, lived in the fourteenth century
during the Crusades and the Great Schism. According to Father Christopher Rengers, O.F.M. Cap., in his book: The 33 Doctors of the Church that I have quoted extensively in all the doctors on this site, and found in the doctoral sources,
"St Catherine was born on Annunciation Day, March 25th, 1347, which in that year was also Palm Sunday. By the time she was weaned, Siena had lost 80,000 people in the Black Death, which was sweeping over Europe. Overgrown fields and empty houses were grim reminders to those who were left and to those of the new generation. During a later plague St. Catherine worked heroically, comforting, caring for and even curing the sick. It was then that she met Blessed Raymond Capua, (Dominican) who became her greatest confidante, her confessor and ultimately her biographer."
This period in church
history was most ignoble. She shines with brilliance for her
accomplishments in bringing about needed changes and illumination,
not only for the church, but, for all humanity seeking unity and
She is an exquisite model for all Third Order
members and individuals who are single by choice or the providence
of God. This extraordinary, holy lady is also an example for those
who want to dedicate themselves to God and others for any just
cause, regardless of their married or unmarried status.
matter your job, profession or way of life, Catherine will lead you
if you seek her support. She is great at establishing harmony, order
and unity in your role and duties. If you are at odds with anyone,
are adverse to certain people, or reluctant to be around
troublemakers, you definitely want to know Catherine. She is a role
model for charity. Explore reading and meditating with Catherine who
was a great unifier and sought to unite disparities, differences,
diverse opinions and divergent feelings.
The below link is a moving and humble international site to promote unity among all people and religions. It originated in Syria and is moving around the globe. It's about a married couple and two children who bring us a message from Jesus and Mary and offer their home as a place for prayer. It has a powerful message that one will not easily forget. This site promotes what St Catherine stood for: Unity and prayer among all people.
Catherine is the
first of the women doctors to be born. She is the last doctor during
the Middle Ages and the first to bring about the union of the church
back to Rome after nearly a century in France. What a stupendous
feat! This division was more than a geographical rift and it caused
great harm, embarrassment and scandal for the church.
separations and isolations are painful. However, for the church to
be in a state of Ďseparation or divorceí from Rome, was shocking.
The institutional church was in an era of Ďdarknessí. The Spirit
would use Catherine to enlighten and help transform the people in
the church to see with wisdom. Her achievements are perhaps the
greatest changes in church history. They are great advantages for us
today to learn from and esteem what holiness can contribute not only
in spiritual manners but corporeal affairs.
There were five
official popes during her brief lifetime and it was anyoneís guess
who was in charge or how many popes claimed the papacy and exactly
who was the one official pope at that time. Confusion reigned!
Father Leonard Foleyís book, which is used frequently and listed in
the sources, states that one-third of the population and nearly
forty percent of the clergy were wiped out by the Black Death during
the 14th century. The Western Schism spit the church with two or
three claimants to the Holy See at one time. St Catherine was the
only doctor of the church born within the 14th or 15th century.
Her accomplishments in only thirty-three years on earth
were achieved through her close union and unity with God. Her total
surrender to God through virtue and not penances were instrumental
in the church's dramatic change. You can do the same for the church
when your attitude, prayer life and loving faith are fully employed doing God's holy will. Do you want to change the direction of the church? Read and reflect on Catherine's life and Dialogue.
Better yet, study and cry to her in holy prayer. She is a
Catherine is an example for us. We too can cause
dynamic changes in the world today, and through the church, when we
exercise Godís charity, hope, faith and trust. This is not easy and
most challenging. Catherine was persecuted, accused and cleared of
all charges by the church. The more anyone brings about changes, the
more one is challenged, threatened and often persecuted. Often, the
noblest history changers are murdered.
Catherineís twin sister, who died suddenly after being born, she
lived a long life. This Virgin-Doctor was the youngest of
twenty-five children. God announced her birth to her parents, Lapa
and Giacomo, in Siena, Italy exactly when the church was in dire need of a heroine. Today Catherine is the patroness of Italy.
As a child, Catherine was serious
about God, cheerful, and intelligent. Her father was most sensitive
to her. He allowed her to have extra space to pray. When God calls
us to pray, and we cooperate, allowances are usually made for time,
place and atmosphere. How Giacomo, with all his children, could give
a room to her daughter for praying is an example of how man proposes
but God disposes. Where there is genuine prayer, there is union,
unity, harmony and accord.
The spiritual seeds bestowed in
Catherineís soul were being prepared for church unity. The church at
this particular time was anything but united. Genuine prayer or
loving union with God binds together everything as God is bound
together by three Persons in one Godhead. It is a simple and
profound mystery but what in life isnít? Life is a challenge to love
if one can because of hardships.
Catherine pursued God eagerly and vehemently. When she turned
eighteen she was seriously called by God to prayer. She cooperated
and spent the following three years in extra prayer time. She wanted
seclusion. She chose to be committed to Christ. Christ was her
interest, her life and her passion. Itís very simple. Thatís what
she begged God for and thatís what she got.
It is amazing
what happens when we sincerely ask for Godís love and are prepared
to receive it. Why? God is ever ready to bestow precious gifts most
generously. Regardless of oneís profession, job or state of life,
when love is received and shared with others, it will drive, guide
and grace one enormously. Itís truly the force and energy of life.
When one surrenders to the infinite Lover, God will often rev you up
and keep you going without being conscious of getting tired.
Allowing God to impress you with divine touches can easily turn Ďyou
oní. The process gets started by turning to prayer, sincerity and
openness to Godís Spirit.
For this confident and wise woman,
prayer had taken roots very early in her life. Later it began to
have transforming effects. Exactly how this transforming took effect can be seen in the below link: Scroll down to the major heading entited: An Exchange of Hearts. Catherine is the first listed.
THE DOCTORS AND MYSTICAL HEARTS
She spoke up and out for Christ. She was
challenged. Opposition and slander toward her arose because of
jealousy and other petty vices as envy, anger and a host of other
pernicious attacks. Catherine was beginning to develop a following.
Godís love is contagious and radiant. She became attractive because
of her generous spirituality. Itís obvious men, especially Italian
men, wanted to wine and dine her. Beauty attracts. If we have been
gifted with Godís beauty physically, we readily have an attraction
to want attention. If we have been gifted with Godís beauty
spiritually, we readily have an attraction to give our attention to
God. Prayer is focusing our attention on God regardless of how we
Catherine preferred to belong totally to Christ. She
was united to God intimately and she longed to maintain that unity
even if it meant speaking out or saying things people didn't
necessarily like to hear. It did not matter if they were clergy. She
reverently told the pope to return to Rome. She either wrote letters
or dictated them. She spoke from her heart, strength, and soul. She
poured herself out daily despite her position. A woman in the church
during this time was a 'nobody'. These were times when women were
not typically outspoken especially publicly and certainly not in
church circles. Her messages got through because it was Godís will
and because she had tremendous confidence in God. She never said no
to God. She was madly in love with God as a personal friend and
everything she possessed was shared mutually for the love of the
Her public influence became widely known because of
her holiness. She was obedient but outspoken, reverent, and docile.
God called Catherine to pray, pray and pray. The last few years of
her life she spent pleading for the unity of the church. The Papacy
was in Avignon, France and Catherine told church officials where God
wanted it. But who would listen? God would! God answered her
prayers. God is bound to answer all prayers. Why is that? God told
us so. What she asked from God was impossible. This was more
incredible than moving a mountain. Catherine worked a trick on God.
She duped God! She would offer herself as a victim to the Almighty
and the Almighty would work an Almighty deed. The rest is
The church actually returned to Rome, Italy.
Amazing? Prayer obtains all that is asked when one asks in faith and
it is Godís will. Why is this so hard to believe or accept? Cynicism
or disbelief or both? God used this woman in salvation history as
the Almighty has used scores of other eminently holy women to help
Godís people and the church to awaken unity and union of its
members. The bible is loaded with Godís heroines. The literature in
the sources and links abound with contemporary heroic figures.
God is a uniter. Goodness makes all things one for
good. God blesses us and makes us holy joining us together in
marriages, oneness and shared intimacy.
appears, was not a writer or reader. She wasnít educated in the
traditional manner. Whether she was Ďilliterateí (as some suggest)
or not, from an educational point of view, is insignificant or
stupid to assume. Catherine was a spiritual giant with a powerful
communication style and a genuine lover of Christ's humanity.
Everything that she asked of Christ in accordance with Godís will
she got and more. The church greatly honors St Catherine with St
Francis of Assisi as Italy's main patroness and patron.
noble lady was a doer. She was a doer of prayer. Prayer was her
passion, her poise and her lifetime pursuit. Prayer nourished her
and she nourished prayer. She was zealous for the Lord's house. It
was a love affair. People are more than body and soul. They are life
and spirit, wrapped in clay, bulging with Godís talents and vision.
Some people lift weights to build their body up. Others lift up
their hearts and minds to strengthen their souls. Catherine allowed
God to use both her body and soul to strengthen the "Mystical Body",
the Catholic Church, and claimed her in spiritual marriage. Even though she
ranks among the greatest mystics and spiritual writers the church
has produced, she got involved with others. In addition to prayer,
she devoted herself to good works, distributing alms, caring for the
repulsive and sick during the 1372 plague. She buried many of the
victims with her own hands and labored tirelessly for others in
Because of Catherineís great compassion for the dying
under duress, she would be an excellent model as intercessor for the
AIDS epidemic today. This might be compared to the Black Death
plague in Catherineís time. Disregarding the causes for AIDS, there
are enormous deaths all around the world especially in third world
countries. Millions of innocent victims of the AIDS sickness are
devastated. Medical specialists say that the time range for AIDS may
continue another ten years with no known cure to be in sight.
Improvements are being made and hope is alive but it is a long way
off before this epidemic will be wiped out, if ever. However,
Catherine would advise us that with prayer all things could be
achieved faster than imagined. What she achieved with prayer moving
the church back to Italy could also be achieved toward another
Herculean effort needed with the AIDS epidemic especially in Africa.
Prayer, faith, religion, and medicine must be united and Catherine is
a terrific unifier and one to intercede before God when humankind is
in a most vulnerable state.
This is fact not fiction: Every day, at the present time, in Africa alone, 5 children die every minute of HIV or associated causes. 40,000 die each day worldwide from diseases and preventable causes. 15 million under the age of 5 die each year in developing countries. 10 million of the children in the developing world have no access to clean drinking water. 40% of children under age 5 suffer from malnutrition. 10 million of the world's refugess, almost 70%, are children. And the list goes on...
Today there is nationwide effort to save Darfur. One effort is to increase US pressure on the UN for greater UN presence in Darful to protect the civilians and to assure humanitarian relief.
Join the million of voices postcard campaign and voice your concern. For more information on Darfur go to www.genocideintervention.net or www.hrw.org or www.savedarfur.org and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to the website of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops which includes an endorsement of the Save Darfur Campaign and a statement by Pope Bendedict on the crises in Sudan. Over 400,000 have been killed and over 2 million are homeless.
Saint Catherine of Siena worked tirelessly to
maintain peace and harmony between the Pope and Florence. She
labored for the Crusade against hostile forces that weakened unity
among people. Mystics, as Catherine, see God alive in people. In
reality, that is where God dwells. God is obviously everywhere but
especially hidden in souls. God is an amazing Hider. Because of
Godís beauty and power, God subdues his majestic glory and
awesomeness in order for us to cope with supernatural reality. We
have to deal with our own visible human status and sometimes that is
Her book entitled, Dialogue, which was
probably dictated, says it all: God talks and we listen. We then
talk to God and then God listens. Now, thatís a dynamic, divine
dialogue. Her counsels, wisdom and advice contained marvelous means
on how to act charitable. Authentic merit is grounded in charity
toward God and neighbor. That is the art of all religion and unity
The Dominicans to which she was affiliated,
founded by St Dominic, are an order of preachers among many
ministries. As most religious orders they encourage 3rd order
participation by men and women not in the order itself but committed
to Christ through their own charisma and calling. Dominicans have
contributed immeasurably to the growth of the Church. We should pray
to their many holy personages. Some favorites for many include
Catherine de Ricci, Rose of Lima, Martin de Porres, Margaret of
Metola, Mary Bagnesi, Osanna Mantua, Lucy of Narni and
Church honors three Dominican doctors: St Albert, St Thomas Aquinas
and St Catherine of Siena. A favorite writer for many, who especially motivated me to explore writing, was Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P. The Dominicans, one of many religious
institutes of men in the United States, were founded in the early
13th century by St Dominic de Guzman. General headquarters are in
Sabina, Rome, Italy. In addition to preaching, they focus on
teaching, missions, research and parishes. They have five provinces
across the USA. Membership worldwide are over 11,000.
Dominic at Prouille, France founded the Nuns of the Order of
Preachers in 1206. They are comprised of cloistered and
contemplative. They have two branches in the USA. First monastery
was established in 1880 in Newark, N.J. from Oullins, France
foundation. They have many autonomous monasteries in the USA
employing perpetual adoration and perpetual rosary.
rosary is a powerful and provocative prayer and is often associated
with St Dominic receiving the gift from Our Lady. We reflect on the
mysteries of the Jesusí life as we verbally recite fifty hail-marys.
The rosary is considered a compendium of the gospel. It includes the
major events of Our Savior as they relate to our salvation and
sanctification. The four major mysteries are the joyful, luminous, sorrowful
and glorious. It is a prayer for all seasons. St Mary, our sister,
down through the ages, quite frequently appears with the rosary in
her hands as in the apparitions of Fatima.
For more specialized information on The Blessed Virgin and what each doctors said about Mary, please click on the below link:
THE DOCTORS AND ST. MARY
frequent the first Saturday devotions in honor of Our Lady of
Fatima. Louis de Montfortís, (whose feast day was yesterday, 4/28,) books on the rosary and Mary are
classics. They included True Devotion to Mary, The Secret of the
Rosary and The Secret of Mary.
The rosary has the power to
unite us to God as St Catherine advocated. Christ desires for all
humankind to be one, mutual and have intimate knowledge of Him. All should have respectful relationship with each as all are God's children.
God used Catherine to bring the church together in the mid
fourteenth century. Today God is forever encouraging unity and
goodwill among all people and nations. Unity in one church would be
Godís more cherished wish from a human perspective. We could surmise
that since God is one, the Trinity would want all to be one for
everyone else. However, that might not be the case because our
thoughts are not his thoughts nor are our ways Godís
All creatures, Godís representatives and his seers
throughout the world attempt this unity. We too must do our part. By
acting charitable constantly, we will be able to act as God would
act in us.
The below prayer of St Catherine of Siena reveals
the depths and profundity of her love that she possessed toward
Mary, Jesus and God.
O God, how inestimable and most sweet is
the union You have effected with human beings! You have splendidly
shown Your ineffable Love through many graces and benefits heaped on
creatures, and especially through the benefit of the Incarnation of
your Son; that is, the grace of seeing the Highest One come down to
the lowest-which is our humanity.
Rightly should human pride be
abashed on seeing God so abashed in the womb of the Virgin Mary, who
was that sweet field in which was sown the seed of the Word
Incarnate, the Son of God. Truly, most dear Father, in this blessed
and sweet field of Mary God grafted this Word in her flesh like the
seed that is cast on the ground, which by virtue of the sunís heat
germinates and brings forth flowers and fruits, while the pod
remains in the earth.
This is what God truly did, by virtue
of the heat and the fire of the Divine Love that He had for the
human race, casting the seed of His Word in the field of Mary. O
blessed and dear Mary, you have given us the flower of the sweet
And when did this sweet flower produce its fruit? When
there was grafted in her the wood by the most holy Cross: because
then we received perfect life. And why did we say that the pod
remains in the earth? What was this pod? It was the will of the
Only-begotten Son of God, Who, as Man, was imbued with the desire to
honor His Father and to bring about our salvation. So strong was
this immeasurable desire that He hastened like someone
enraptured-sustaining pain and shame and vituperation-to the
opprobrious death of the Cross. Consider, then, venerable Father,
that this same desire was in Mary, that is, that she could not
desire anything other than the honor or God and salvation of
creatures. Moreover, the Doctors declare-in manifestation of Maryís
immeasurable charity- that she was willing to become a ladder
herself so as to place her Son on the Cross if there had been no
other way to do so. And all this came about because the will of the
Son had remained in her.
The year 1999 was designated for
reflection on our Father.
Lastly, The Dialogue of St Catherine is about 107 pages long. It is the sixth link below. However, there is a brief summary of the entire book near the end on page 101. God told Catherine that mercy is God's special attribute. This mercy is manifested in Jesus who is the Bridge through his divinity and humanity with our humanity to make us more divine. Catherine tells about the mystical body which is the church and its members. One special importance for us today is that God informs us that reverence toward God's ministers should not be diminished on account of the sins of the ministers and that God is most displeased with irreverence in any manner. God promised reform of the church in her time and it was done.
Today, also, we are in need of reform within the church and outside the church. It will be our prayers, that renewal, conversion and change of heart will also be accomplished. It is the daily challenge for us to exercise our faith, hope and charity daily. It is through God's Church, her sacraments, our prayers and the kind action toward others, who are in great need of his mercy, that we will obtain transformation, union and unity. This is what St Catherine did throughout her thirty-three years, in union with her beloved, Jesus Christ.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II has charged the Church to undertake a New Evangelization that "calls for a clearly conceived, serious, and well-organized effort to evangelize culture" (Ecclesia in America 70). The Blackfriars Repertory Theatre aims to fulfill that charge of the Pope. For more info email:BlackfriarsRep@aol.com or call or write Blackfriars Repertory Theatre, 141 East 65th Street, New York, New York 10021-6618 Tel (914)378-9023.
The below link is a comprenhensive Dominican link including many links for research and exploration. The categories include:
St Teresa of Avila probaby knew of Catherine and both begin to put women back in the Church in a more beautiful 'light'.
The other two Dominican Doctors of the Church are Sts Albert and Thomas. See links below:
St. Albert 11/15
St. Thomas Aquinas 1/28
Another interesting link on Saint Catherine, was founded in St Anthony Messenger by Barbara Beckwith who is the managing editor of this publication. Go to link "What's Happening" page of www.adriansisters.org and see the icon that reads: Have Catherine Visit You. Click here to schedule a visit with Catherine of Siena, as portrayed by Sister Nancy Murray.
Latest new website below on Saint Catherine of Siena by Fr. Thomas K. McDermott, OP that is compact. It sizzles with fiery love that is the trademark of The Seraphic Virgin.
Drawn by Love
Below is a link of Saint Catherine of Siena from the web site of the ministry of Dr Marcellino D'Ambrosio.
Saint Catherine of Siena
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.
The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.
Let us pray
Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.