“O Eternal God, accept the sacrifice of my life
for the mystical body of Thy holy Church.”
Catherine of Siena, what an impressive woman and Saint! As I start on our sister’s story, like with the other powerful women in the Church, I can feel tears coming to my eyes, tears of joy. Thank You, Lord for the privilege of passing on what we have learned through our travels to the Shrines, as well as through the historians before us, who have felt this lady and her life so essential a part of the Story of our Church. As we write on the lives of these women we experience the same feelings we have had when we have walked on the cobblestone roads they walked, and touched the walls of the rooms they touched. If these walls and stones could talk, they would sing of the Glory and Love of Jesus and His Mother, as They spoke to and guided these Saints in their journey of faith to the Kingdom.
I’m so excited! Please stop a moment and pray with me that the words that flow on these pages be those of our Lord, the message He has for you today.
In 1347, Catherine was born into a large, wealthy family, the 23rd child of a family of 25 children. Catherine’s parents built their huge home, which you can visit till today, in the heart of the city on Via dei Tintori (Street of the Dyers). Their home included their Dye Works on the lower level and rooms above, where most of their surviving twelve children (thirteen having died at infancy), with their spouses, the family servant and dye workers lived and ate. It was, all in all, a very impressive home, with its courtyard and beautiful gardens, but not a very peaceful one. The hustle and bustle of the business, right there in the house, drowned out whatever quiet family life they might have enjoyed. The choking, putrid fumes from the dyes below, permeated all the rooms of the house, clinging to everything; the stench on their clothes following them, lingering long after they had ventured out into the streets.
One day, Catherine and her brother were slowly returning from the country home of their married sister Buonaventura, as Catherine loved and preferred the peaceful countryside. She paused on the hillside to look over the valley. Her eyes travelled toward the great Basilica of San Domenico (St. Dominic). She saw a Vision which would affect and determine the rest of her life.
Catherine saw Jesus seated on a throne, dressed in the white, gold-embroidered vestments of the Pope. On His Head He wore the Papal Tiara which has been passed on for almost two thousand years from Pope to Pope. Standing beside Him were the Apostles St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist, but He was not looking at them. Instead His Eyes were on Catherine, His Love and Smiling Face filling her with a joy she had never known before. He stepped toward her and blessed her with the sign of the Cross. Her eyes fixed on Him, she felt herself rising out of her body, being removed from the world around her, losing consciousness of her very self. There was such a magnetism drawing Catherine to the Lord, that although only six years old, she knew her childhood was over. Catherine reminds us of the children, who after our Lady touched their lives at Fatima, their toys meant nothing to them. …
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