Litany of St. Catherine of Sienna
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
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.
Pray for us. *
Holy Mother of God, *
St. Catherine of Sienna, *
Chaste spouse of Christ, *
Fervent lover of God, *
Faithful follower of the cross, *
Contemplative soul, *
Instructed by the Holy Ghost, *
Enemy of vanity, *
Vanquisher of the Evil One, *
Pattern of docility and obedience, *
Humble Catherine, *
Immaculate Catherine, *
Model of religious, *
Rigidly austere, *
Most devout to the holy sacrament, *
Entirely devoted to the sacred heart, *
Heroically meek and patient, *
Pattern of charity, *
Powerful in converting souls, *
Mediatrix for sinners, *
Angel of peace, *
Zealot of the glory of the Most High, *
Guide of interior souls, *
Replenished with celestial knowledge, *
Fill with divine gifts, *
Elevated to the throne of the Divinity, *
Following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, *
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Hear us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us, O Lord.
V. The zeal of thy love has eaten me up.
R. The offenses of those who offended have fallen upon me.
V. Pray for us, blessed St. Catherine of Sienna.
R.That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us Pray:
Grant, O Lord, we beseech you, that we who honor St. Catherine the Virgin, may, through her intercession, profit by the example of her eminent virtues: who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.
[Say, morning, noon and night, one "Hail Mary," and the following, to obtain purity, angelical purity of body, mind and heart, commending at the same time, your powers and senses to the Mother of purity.].
St. Catherine of Sienna, Virgin
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
Sienna, in the Tuscan district, is the favored place where, in 1347, St. Catherine first saw the light of this world. Her life from her childhood, was a continual exercise of the choicest virtues, but at the same time, a perpetual communication of divine grace. When scarcely five years of age she was called "the little Saint" on account of her quietness and her love of prayer. Already at that time she greeted the Virgin Mother upon every step of the staircase with the words of the Angels: "Ave Maria!" When six years old, our Lord appeared to her with the Apostles Peter, Paul and John, together with St. Dominic, looked tenderly at her and gave His blessing. This was the beginning of many and extraordinary visions with which the holy virgin was graced until her death. Her heart from this time was filled with intense love of God. She read most carefully the lives of the Saints, and endeavored to follow their example. In her seventh year she consecrated her virginity to God. Her only pleasure was solitude, prayer, work and self-immolation. Persuaded by her sister, she once began to pay more attention to her dresses and to curl her hair after the prevailing fashion of the world. This lasted, however, only a short while, for she became aware during her prayers how much God was displeased with such vanities and how long her pious sister would have to suffer on account of it in purgatory: hence she refrained from it and repented of her folly as long as she lived. Her parents desired her to marry; but she replied: "I am already wedded to a most noble spouse and shall never bestow my love on a human being;" and cutting off her hair she covered her head with a veil. To drive all thoughts of entering a convent out of her mind, her parents burdened her with the entire care of the house, as well as the hardest work, so that no leisure was left her, either for prayer, or devotional reading. This was at first a sore trial to her, but she was told by Christ to build a cell in her heart, where, in the midst of her employments she might pray, namely, by offering her work to God and by pious ejaculations. Following these directions of Christ, her soul became filled with sweet consolation, and she manifested, under the greatest drudgery, a most extraordinary happiness. This caused her parents to change their resolution, and they permitted her to live according to her vocation. Hence, she now began to live in a more retired manner, and with more austerity than before.Practical Considerations
Bread, herbs and water were her only nourishment, two bare boards her bed. She was girded by a pointed chain which she Continued to wear until a few hours before her death, when at the instance of her confessor, she laid it aside. She only allowed herself one or two hours of sleep during the night; the remainder she employed in prayer or in the contemplation of the divine mysteries. She scourged herself three times daily, sometimes until she drew blood. These austerities she observed from her eighteenth year until her death. After she had been received into the third order of St. Dominic, she aspired most fervently after sanctification, but Satan endeavored with the most loathsome imaginings and temptations, to trouble the repose of her soul and pervert her thoughts; Catherine, however, increasing her penance and her prayers, withstood him bravely, but still without feeling more relieved or more quiet. At length, when, one day, Christ appeared to her, she said: "O Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?" "I was in thy heart," answered the Saviour. "What;" said she, "hast Thou been in my heart which was filled with such abominable thoughts?"; "Hast thou then consented to them? Hast thou been pleased with them?" asked Christ. "Oh, no!" replied Catherine, "it was most painful to me to be afflicted with them." "And this was thy merit," said Christ; "I have seen how thou hast battled, and I have assisted thee." Thus ended her temptations, which were succeeded by the most comforting visions of our Lord, His Blessed Mother and other Saints, the number of which is known only to God. She frequently saw Christ as a lovely little child in the holy Sacrament, for which divine mystery she entertained the most fervent devotion. She partook of it almost daily, but always with renewed piety and shedding a flood of tears. It was very remarkable that the receiving of it preserved also her temporal life, for it is a fact that one year she partook of nothing else but the Blessed Eucharist from Ash-Wednesday until Ascension-day. When she was required, as an act of obedience, to take some food, she suffered so greatly by so doing, that the request was not repeated. After some time, Christ commanded her to be kind and charitable to her neighbors, and she began to nurse the sick with an indescribable loving care. Among others, she attended to two women, of whom one was afflicted with leprosy, the other with cancer. In nursing them she evinced the most perfect self-control.
She pressed the offensive matter out of the sores and cleansed them with water. Feeling disgust, she drank the purulent matter which she had kept in a vessel mixed with water, saying to her confessor that she had never tasted anything more agreeable. Christ appeared to her on the following night, praised her self-mortification and rewarded her with great interior peace and tranquillity. It was hard for her to bear when this very woman, whom she had so tenderly nursed, instigated by Satan, not only complained of her, but slandered her in the whole city. But Christ visited her and presenting to her two crowns, one of gold, the other of thorns, said: "Which of these two do you desire?" Catherine answered: "Lord, I desire to resemble Thee in this life, and it is a joy to me to suffer as Thou didst:" and with these words she took the crown of thorns and pressed it upon her head. Christ, upon this, commanded her to continue her charity towards the sick, which she did with unprecedented patience and kindness. Her love towards those whose souls were diseased, was still more tender, and she offered for such her prayers and many penances, through which means she obtained from God the conversion of many sinners, who otherwise would have gone to destruction. She prayed three whole days for a certain woman who was dangerously sick, and who hated the Saint most bitterly. At last, she said to Christ: "I will not move from this place until Thou givest me this soul." He graciously complied with her request by converting the woman and giving her a happy death.
She was also gifted by God with the grace of reading the inmost thoughts of those who approached her: hence her exhortations were always addressed to their weakest spot. If a lascivious person came near her, she always perceived so terrible an odor that she had to cover her nose and mouth. Many other graces God had bestowed upon her, to relate all of which would take too much space. One of the most remarkable of these was, that Christ had impressed the marks of his five holy wounds upon her, but in such a manner that, exteriorly, nothing was to be seen, while she suffered all their pains. She had prayed to Christ for this grace in order that it might remain unknown to the world. The many miracles which she performed on the sick and possessed, and the heavenly wisdom with which she was filled, secured her not only the highest regard of the people, but also of the prelates of the Church, as well as of worldly princes. She was even sent in times of strife and contention, as a messenger of peace, and the effect of her wonderful talents more than surpassed all expectations. At Rome, whither she had been called by the Pope, she became dangerously sick, and during four months she suffered excruciating pain: she ceased not, however, praising and giving thanks to God. The Almighty, whose judgment, though inscrutable, is always just, sent her a last bitter trial after she had received the holy Sacrament; Satan reproached her that in her actions and ecstasies, she had only sought her own aggrandizement. But she overcame the enemy of her peace, and after this anguish of soul, she had a most consoling and tender discourse with Christ, who visibly appeared to her, and into whose hands she breathed her chaste soul in the thirty-third year of her life. Her last words were: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
I. St. Catherine, during her whole life, repented of the folly she had committed in following her sister's advice, and vainly adorning her person. Oh! how much more reason to repent have many children of the world who by indecorously arraying themselves, not only give occasion for scandal, but often effect the ruin of others. With what bitter tears ought they to weep over the loss of so many precious hours they have so idly spent in adorning themselves! Catherine came to the knowledge that God is displeased with the vanity of dress. How much more, then, must He be displeased with indecorous and frivolous adornments, the only motive of which is to please the eyes of others. The sister of St. Catherine had much and long to suffer in the other world on account of her vanity; but how much more will those affected dolls of our day suffer in consequence of their levity! Catherine reformed as soon as she came to the knowledge of her fault. Pray to God that He may enlighten you, in case you have done wrong, in regard to this point: and earnestly avoid a repetition of it in future. Be assured that simplicity, both in dress, manner and conduct is the most beautiful ornament of a Christian, as Tertullian writes. The frivolous, demoralizing way of dressing, the too great care for beauty, marks those persons who think little of the salvation of their souls, or who at least are more concerned for their mortal bodies. St. Chrysostom writes: "It is a sign that the mind addicted to vanity is already corrupt, or will soon become so." "If you dress yourself with immoderate vanity," says St. Cyprian, "to please others, do not say that your mind is chaste and pure: for your appearance convicts you of falsehood." "Your exterior ornaments are a sign of the abomination of your interior," says St. Bernard.
II. St. Catherine performed her work joyfully, and made it meritorious by frequent pious ejaculations. Against the temptations of Satan she combatted bravely, and bore, with patience and meekness, the heaviest calumnies and the bitterest pain. Learn from this, how to conduct yourself, under temptations calumny and pain: and be ashamed of your past actions. "How is it possible," writes St. Bernard, "that we do not feel ashamed when we contemplate the splendid examples of the Saints, and compare with them our own way of living?" Impress deeply on your heart the words that Christ spoke to St. Catherine, in regard to her loathsome imaginations and temptations. To suffer such? temptations is in itself no sin, how long soever they may last; only do not occasion them, and when you perceive them, call God to your aid to combat them valiantly from the beginning. If you are not released from them, which seldom happens, do not become disheartened. God will not forsake you: He watches your fight, will give you grace and strength, and prepare your reward in heaven. If you take this three-fold truth to heart, despondency will never overcome you in the hour of temptation. "God watches us when we fight," says St. Cyprian; "the Angels watch us: Christ watches us. What an honor, what a happiness to combat in the presence of the Most High, and to be crowned by Christ!" How God looks down upon those who battle, St. Augustine explains in these words: "God does not look upon them as a man watching those who combat; because such a man can cry, but cannot assist and impart strength, being only a human being, and not God. The Almighty, however, watching a combatant, helps and gives him strength if he has prayed for it."
III. St. Catherine was commanded by Christ to be kind and charitable to her neighbors. Have you read with what zeal she fulfilled the command? She nursed the sick who were infected with the most loathsome diseases, with heroic self-abnegation. Yes, she did not even become less loving in her care when the sick person--the woman with the cancer--whom she had always nursed with the tenderest kindness, and whose offensive sores she had dressed with utter disregard to her own feelings, slandered and defamed her through the whole city, as a wicked woman, instigated by Satan. The salvation of her neighbors caused her great solicitude: in cases where her sweet mild persuasion effected nothing, she offered to the Almighty her prayers, her penances, to obtain the conversion of the hardened sinner. Christian reader, has not God our Lord given you also the command to be kind and charitable to your neighbor? Or can you obey Christ's command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," if you do not manifest it in works? Oh! how many opportunities are offered to you every day to do acts of kindness! The will only is wanting to improve these occasions, and thus to fulfil God's command. "I will not move from this place until thou hast given me this soul," said Catherine, after having prayed for three days for the conversion of a woman hardened in sin. How often have you prayed for sinners? What mortifications and penances have you offered for them? Dear reader, follow in future the example of St. Catherine in these acts of charity and be assured that the souls which are thus saved by you will one day be your intercessors at the throne of the Almighty.
Novena to Saint Catherine of Siena
1. Catharine, fairest and most glorious of the daughters of St. Dominic, by that spirit of prayer, which was your delight from your infancy, obtain for us the love and practice of prayer, and the grace so to converse with God as to become daily more pleasing to Him.Glory be, etc.
2. By that especial love which you, O great saint, bore to the virtue of purity, consecrating yourself at eight years of age to the Lord by an irrevocable vow, and afterwards by rejecting the most honorable offers of marriage: obtain for us, we pray you, the grace to be always pure in mind and heart, and to detest and abhor everything which could offend in the smallest degree against a virtue so sublime that it raises men to the rank of angels, and makes them most beloved by God.Glory be, etc.
3. By that spirit of retirement which made you, O great saint, desire to behold no one but your Jesus, Who when you were distracted by continual employment in your family, taught you to build a solitude in your heart and keep it at all times filled with thoughts of heaven: obtain for us, we pray, the grace so to love solitude and retirement, however the world may invite us to share its pleasures and its pomps, that our hearts may always turn to God amidst the most dissipating cares which may come upon us in our state of life.Glory be, etc.
4. By the spirit of penance which taught you to inflict upon yourself, even in your earliest years, the most painful mortifications: obtain for us the grace to bear with patience whatever afflictions God may be pleased to order for our good, and to mortify voluntarily all the perverse inclinations of our hearts, and all the unruly desires of our senses, that we may become, in some measure, like our crucified model, Jesus.Glory be, etc.
5. By that heroic charity which led you, O great saint, to attend and minister with your own hands to the poor sick who had been abandoned by all others in disgust, and for which you were repaid only by insult, rudeness, and persecution: obtain of the Lord for us the grace to be, at all times, equally ready to assist our neighbor in his necessities, and to pardon him generously when he returns only insults for the benefits we confer on him, that we may merit the blessedness promised in this life and the next to meekness and true mercy.Glory be, etc.
6. By that supernatural light with which you, O great saint, were miraculously enabled to counsel the Roman Pontiff, who came in person to consult you, when you obtained for him a reconciliation with his adversaries, and his return to Rome: obtain for us of the Lord the grace to know, in all our doubts, that which is most conformable to the will of God, and most conducive to the salvation of souls, that in all our actions we may promote the honor of God and the welfare of our neighbor.Glory be, etc.
7. By that especial devotion which you, O great saint, had to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Who sometimes communicated you with His own hands: obtain for us, we pray you, the grace to feel toward the Blessed Sacrament the most fervent devotion, that we may rejoice to converse with Jesus and receive Him into our bosoms to His honor and glory, and for the salvation of our souls.Glory be, etc.
St. Catharine, pray for us, that we may obtain what we desire through this novena, if what we ask be pleasing to God and conducive to our eternal salvation. May the will of God be done. Amen
Prayer to Saint Catherine of Siena
O admirable Saint Catherine, thou who didst merit to make of thy whole life the noblest holocaust, constantly inspiring thyself to a most ardent love for Jesus, the Lamb without blemish, and for His beloved Spouse the Church, whose rights thou didst strenuously affirm and support in troubled times, obtain, likewise, for us the grace not only to pass unscathed through the corruption of this world, but also to remain unshakably faithful to the Church, in word, in deed, in example, to see always, and to make others see, in the Vicar of Christ our anchor, as it were, in the storms of life, the beacon light that points the way to the harbor of safety on the dark night of our times and of men's souls.(Indulgence of 300 days)
Temptations of St. Catherine of Sienna
St. Catherine of Sienna, that favourite spouse of our Blessed Lord, who bore in her body the stigmata or marks of the Sacred Wounds, was at one time of her life subject to the most violent temptations of Satan. That wicked spirit, envious of the angelic purity of her soul, was wont to fill her mind with filthy imaginations, and to assail her heart with the most impure temptations. Unceasingly did she call on God for help, but she seemed to receive no answer. Her mind was obscured with frightful darkness, and she seemed on the very brink of the precipice. Often, indeed, she was unable to distinguish between temptation and consent, but an invisible hand always preserved her from falling. Upon one occasion after the temptations had ceased, our Blessed Lord came to visit her, filling her with heavenly consolations. "Ah, my Divine Spouse," she cried out, "where wast Thou when I lay in such an abandoned and frightful condition?" "I was with thee," he replied. "What," said she, "in the midst of the filthy abominations with which my soul was filled?" "Yes," answered our Lord, "for these temptations were most displeasing and painful to thee. By fighting against them thou hast gained immense merit, and the victory was owing to my presence." Thus did St. Catherine learn that God is never nearer to us than when we appear the most abandoned, and that He is never wanting to those who call upon Him with humility and confidence.--Butler's Saints' Lives.A Prayer in Temptation
from the Imitations of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Enlighten me, O good Jesus, with the brightness of eternal light, and cast out of darkness from the dwelling of my heart.
Restrain my many wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations that violently assault me.
Fight strongly for me and overcome these wicked beasts--Lev. xxvi. 6, I mean these alluring concupiscences, that there may be peace in Thy strength--Ps. CXXI. 7. and the abundance of Thy praise may resound in Thy holy court, which is a clean conscience.
Command the winds and storms; say to the sea: Be thou still; and to the north wind: Blow thou not; and a great calm shall ensue.--Matt. viii. 26.
St. Catherine in Ecstasy
St. Catherine of Siena
(by Fr. Prosper Gueranger 1870)
The Dominican Order, which, yesterday, presented a rose to our Risen Jesus, now offers Him a lily of surpassing beauty. Catharine of Sienna follows Peter the Martyr: it is a coincidence willed by Providence, to give fresh beauty to this season of grandest Mysteries. Our Divine King deserves everything we can offer Him; and our hearts are never so eager to give Him every possible tribute of homage, as during these last days of His sojourn among us. See how nature is all flower and fragrance at this loveliest of her seasons! The spiritual world harmonizes with the visible, and now yields her noblest and richest works in honour of her Lord, the Author of Grace.
How grand is the Saint, whose Feast comes gladdening us today! She is one of the most favoured of the holy spouses of the Incarnate Word. She was His, wholly and unreservedly, almost from her very childhood. Though thus consecrated to Him by the vow of holy Virginity, she had a mission given to her by divine Providence which required her living in the world. But God would have her to be one of the glories of the Religious State; He therefore inspired her to join the Third Order of St. Dominic. Accordingly, she wore the Habit and fervently practised, during her whole life, the holy exercises of a Tertiary.
From the very commencement, there was a something heavenly about this admirable servant of God, which we fancy existing in an angel who had been sent from heaven to live in a human body. Her longing after God gave one an idea of the vehemence wherewith the Blessed embrace the Sovereign Good on their first entrance into heaven. In vain did the body threaten to impede the soaring of this earthly Seraph; she subdued it by penance, and made it obedient to the spirit. Her body seemed to be transformed, so as to have no life of its own, but only that of the soul. The Blessed Sacrament was frequently the only food she took for weeks together. So complete was her union with Christ, that she received the impress of the sacred Stigmata, and, with them, the most excruciating pain.
And yet, in the midst of all these supernatural favours, Catharine felt the keenest interest in the necessities of others. Her zeal for their spiritual advantage was intense, whilst her compassion for them, in their corporal sufferings, was that of a most loving mother. God had given her the gift of Miracles, and she was lavish in using it for the benefit of her fellow creatures. Sickness, and death itself, were obedient to her command; and the prodigies witnessed at the beginning of the Church were again wrought by the humble Saint of Sienna.
Her communings with God began when she was quite a child, and her ecstasies were almost without interruption. She frequently saw our Risen Jesus, Who never left her without having honoured her, either with a great consolation, or with a heavy cross. A profound knowledge of the mysteries of our holy faith, was another of the extraordinary graces bestowed upon her. So eminent, indeed, was the heavenly wisdom granted her by God, that she, who had received no education, used to dictate the most sublime writings, wherein she treats of spiritual things with a clearness and eloquence which human genius could never attain to, and with a certain indescribable unction which no reader can resist.
But God would not permit such a treasure as this to lie buried in a little town of Italy. The Saints are the supports of the Church; and though their influence be generally hidden, yet, at times, it is open and visible, and men then learn what the instruments are, which God uses for imparting blessings to a world, that would seem to deserve little else besides chastisement. The great question, at the close of the 14th Century, was the restoring to the Holy City the privilege of its having within its walls the Vicar of Christ, who, for sixty years, had been absent from his See. One saintly soul, by merits and prayers, known to heaven alone, might have brought about this happy event, after which the whole Church was longing; but God would have it done by a visible agency, and in the most public manner. In the name of the widowed Rome, in the name of her own and the Church's Spouse, Catharine crossed the Alps, and sought an interview with the Pontiff, who had not so much as seen Rome. The Prophetess respectfully reminded him of his duty; and in proof of her mission being from God, she tells him of a secret which was known to himself alone. Gregory the Eleventh could no longer resist; and the Eternal City welcomed its Pastor and Father. But at the Pontiff's death, a frightful schism, the forerunner of greater evils to follow, broke out in the Church. Catharine, even to her last hour, was untiring in her endeavours to quell the storm. Having lived the same number of years as our Saviour had done, she breathed forth her most pure soul into the hands of her God, and went to continue, in heaven, her ministry of intercession for the Church she had loved so much on earth, and for souls redeemed in the precious Blood of her Divine Spouse.
Our Risen Jesus, Who took her to her eternal reward during the Season of Easter, granted her whilst she was living on earth, a favour, which we mention here, as being appropriate to the mystery we are now celebrating. He, one day, appeared to her, having with Him His Blessed Mother. Mary Magdalene, she that announced the Resurrection to the Apostles, accompanied the Son and the Mother. Catharine's heart was overpowered with emotion at this visit. After looking, for some time, upon Jesus and His holy Mother, her eyes rested on Magdalene, whose happiness she both saw and envied. Jesus spoke these words to her: "My beloved! I give her to thee, to be thy mother." Address thyself to her, henceforth, with all confidence. I give her special charge of thee." From that day forward, Catharine had the most filial love for Magdalene, and called her by no other name than that of Mother.
Let us now read the beautiful, but too brief, account of our Saint's Life, as given in the Liturgy.
Catharine, a virgin of Sienna, was born of pious parents. She asked for and obtained the Dominican habit, such as it is worn by the Sisters of Penance. Her abstinence was extraordinary, and her manner of living most mortified. She was once known to have fasted, without receiving anything but the Blessed Sacrament, from Ash Wednesday to Ascension Day. She had very frequent contests with the wicked spirits, who attacked her in divers ways. She suffered much from fever, and other bodily ailments.
Her reputation for sanctity was so great, that there were brought to her, from all parts, persons who were sick or tormented by the devil. She, in the name of Christ, healed such as were afflicted with malady or fever, and drove the devils from the bodies of them that were possessed.
Being once at Pisa, on a Sunday, and having received the Bread of heaven, she was rapt in an ecstacy. She saw our crucified Lord approaching to her. He was encircled with a great light, and from His five Wounds there came rays, which fell upon the five corresponding parts of Catharine's body. Being aware of the favour bestowed upon her, she besought our Lord, that the stigmata might not be visible. The rays immediately changed from the colour of blood into one of gold, and passed, under the form of a bright light, to the hands, feet, and heart of the Saint. So violent was the pain left by the wounds, that it seemed to her as though she must soon have died, had not God diminished it. Thus our most loving Lord added favour to favour, by permitting her to feel the smart of the wounds, and yet removing their appearance. The servant of God related what had happened to her to Raymund, her Confessor. Hence, when the devotion of the Faithful gave a representation of this miracle, they painted, on the pictures of St. Catharine, bright rays coming from the five stigmata she received.
Her learning was not acquired, but infused. Theologians proposed to her the most difficult questions of divinity, and received satisfactory answers. No one ever approached her, who did not go away a better man. She reconciled many that were at deadly enmity with one another. She visited Pope Gregory the Eleventh, (who was then at Avignon,) in order to bring about the reconciliation of the Florentines, who were under an interdict on account of their having formed a league against the Holy See. She told the Pontiff that there had been revealed to her the vow which he, Gregory, had made of going to Rome. a vow which was known to God alone. It was through her entreaty, that the Pope began to plan measures for taking possession of his See of Rome, which he did soon after. Such was the esteem in which she was held by Gregory, and by Urban the Sixth, his successor, that she was sent by them on several embassies. At length, after a life spent in the exercise of the sublimest virtues, and after gaining great reputation on account of her prophecies and many miracles, she passed hence to her divine Spouse, when she was about the age of three and thirty. She was canonized by Pius the Second.
Pope Pius the Second, one of the glories of Sienna, composed the two following Hymns, in honour of his saintly and illustrious fellow citizen. They form part of the Office of St. Catharine of Siena, in the Dominican Breviary.
HYMNCarry up to heaven, O holy virgin Catharine! these canticles of praise, which we, gladdened as we are by thy feast, sing thus in thine honour.
If they are unworthy of thine acceptance, pardon us, we beseech thee. Nay, we own, O glorious Saint! that we are not equal to the task we have undertaken.
But who is he, that could worthily praise such a Saint as this? Is there, in the wide world, a poet that could write an ode immortal enough for this heroine, whom no enemy could vanquish?
O Catharine! illustrious example of all that is noble! thou wast rich in virtue and wisdom; and with the riches of thy temperance, fortitude, piety, justice and prudence, thou ascendedst into heaven.
Who has not heard of thy glorious virtues and deeds, which were never surpassed in this world! Thy compassions for the sufferings of Christ stamped thee with the impress of his wounds.
Bravely despising the vain grandeurs of this short, mournful, and miserable life,--thy ambition was for heaven alone.
Let us all give infinite thanks to the Son ever blessed of the Eternal Father! let us give glory to the Holy Ghost! to the Three, one equal praise! Amen
HYMNWell indeed may we sing thy praise, O Catharine! for, by thy wondrous virtues, thou receivedst a triumphant welcome from heaven itself.
Yes, it is in heaven alone, where thou art enriched with all good things, that thou receivedst the reward of thy holy life, and the recompense of thy grand virtue.
Great was thy veneration for the Patriarch of Preachers, that perfect model of every virtue; thou enteredst his Order, and art one of its brightest glories.
Joys of earth, vanity of dress, beauty of body, none had charms for thee. Sin, the injustice offered to God by his creature, oh! this thou couldst not brook.
To reduce thy body to subjection, and to atone for the sins of men, oft didst thou severely scourge thyself, till thine innocent blood would flow in streams on the ground.
Thou hadst compassion on all that were suffering, no matter where they might be, or what their misfortune. Thy sympathy was ever ready for them, too, that were a prey to care.
But our hymn would never end, were we to tell all thy praises, O Catharine! whose sanctity far surpaSssed that of other mortals.
The savage soldiers and leaders, who were threatening the people of Sienna with death, withdrew at thy word.
Oft was thy mind applied, with all its power, to the study of sacred things: and thy letters, teeming with wisdom and elegance, are still treasured in some of our richest cities.
Thou excelledst in the power of reclaiming sinners, and persuading all to follow what was right. Thus didst thou speak to them: "Virtue alone can make man happy."
Far from fearing, thou hadst a brave contempt for the dread claims of death, which thou wast wont to call the recompense of life.
When, therefore, the time came for thee to leave thy sacred body to the tomb, and ascend into heaven, thou gavest lessons of consolation to them that stood weeping around thee.
And having adored the Body of Christ, and received, amidst abundant tears of devotion, the saving Host, thy last words were instructions to all how to lead a holy life.
Let us all give infinite thanks to the Son ever blessed of the Eternal Father! let us give glory to the Holy Ghost! to the Three, one equal praise! Amen.
Holy Church, filled as she now is with the joy of her Jesus' Resurrection, addresses herself to thee, O Catharine, who followest the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (Apoc. xiv. 4). Living in this exile, where it is only at intervals that she enjoys His presence, she says to thee: Hast thou seen Him, whom my soul loveth (Cant. iii. 3)? Thou art his Spouse; so is she: but there are no veils, no separation, for thee; whereas, for her, the enjoyment is at rare and brief periods, and, even so, there are clouds that dim the lovely Light. What a life was thine, O Catharine! uniting in itself the keenest compassion for the sufferings of Jesus, and an intense happiness by the share He gave thee of His glorified life. We might take thee as our guide both to the mournful mysteries of Calvary, and to the glad splendours of the Resurrection. It is these second that we are now respectfully celebrating: oh! speak to us of our Risen Jesus. Is it not He that gave thee the nuptial ring, with its matchless diamond set amidst four precious gems? The bright rays, which gleam from thy stigmata, tell us, that when He espoused thee to Himself, thou sawest Him all resplendent with the beauty of His glorious Wounds.
Daughter of Magdalene! like her, thou art a messenger of the Resurrection; and when thy last Pasch comes, the Pasch of thy thirty-third year, thou goest to heaven, to keep it for eternity. O zealous lover of souls! love them more than ever, now that thou art in the palace of the King, our God. We, too, are in the Pasch, in the New Life; intercede for us, that the life of Jesus may never die within us, but may go on, strengthening its power and growth, by our loving Him with an ardour like thine own.
Get us, great Saint, something of the filial devotedness thou hadst for holy Mother Church, and which prompted thee to do such glorious things! Her sorrows and her joys were thine; for there can be no love for Jesus, where there is none for His Spouse: and is it not through her that He gives us all His gifts? Oh, yes! we, too, wish to love this Mother of ours; we will never be ashamed to own ourselves as her children! we will defend her against her enemies; we will do everything that lies in our power to win others to acknowledge, love, and be devoted to her.
Our God used thee as His instrument, O humble Virgin, for bringing back the Roman Pontiff to his See. Thou wast stronger than the powers of this earth, which would fain have prolonged an absence disastrous to the Church. The relics of Peter in the Vatican, of Paul on the Ostian Way, of Lawrence and Sebastian, of Caecilia and Agnes, exulted in their glorious Tombs, when Gregory entered with triumph into the Holy City. It was through thee, O Catharine, that a ruinous captivity of seventy years' duration was brought, on that day, to a close, and that Rome recovered her glory and her life.
In these our days, hell has changed its plan of destruction: men are striving to deprive of its Pontiff-King the City, which was chosen by Peter as the See where the Vicar of Christ should reign to the end of the world. Is this design of God, this design which was so dear to thee, O Catharine! is it now to be frustrated? Oh! beseech Him to forbid a sacrilege, which would scandalise the weak, and make the impious blaspheme in their success. Come speedily to our aid! and if thy Divine Spouse, in His just anger, permit us to suffer these humiliations, pray that, at least they may be shortened.
Pray, too, for unhappy Italy, which was so dear to thee, and which is so justly proud of its Saint of Sienna. Impiety and heresy are now permitted to run wild through the land; the name of thy Spouse is blasphemed; the people are taught to love error, and to hate what they had hitherto venerated; the Church is insulted and robbed; Faith has long since been weakened, but now its very existence is imperilled. Intercede for thy unfortunate country, dear Saint! oh! surely, it is time to come to her assistance, and rescue her from the hands of her enemies. The whole Church hopes in thy effecting the deliverance of this her illustrious province: delay not, but calm the storm which seems to threaten a universal wreck!
Quotes from St. Catherine of Siena
Raise thy heart and thy love toward the sweet and most holy cross, which soothes every pain!
Prayer is a pasturage, a field, wherein all the virtues find their nourishment, growth, and strength.
All that God gives us and all that He permits in this world have no other end than to sanctify us in Him.