Today is the Feast Day of Saint Catherine of Siena, my confirmation saint whom I often affectionately refer to as “my girl”. Saint Catherine was a woman not only filled with a fierce love of God but also plenty of sass, makes sense why I love her right? You’ll see what I mean about the sass. Let me first introduce you to her: Catherine lived during the 14th Century, she was 6 years old when she had her first vision of Christ, was 7 years old when she vowed her life to God, she joined the Third Order of Saint Dominic, became a renown mystic and theologian, and amidst all of this she developed a devotion to the Eucharist that would characterize her entire life. It has been said of Catherine that “The Eucharist was literally her life and it must be truly said that her entire life was one great Eucharistic Miracle.” Catherine is now a Doctor of the Church, 1 of 6 Patronesses of Europe and 1 of 2 Patronesses of Italy.
Now let me tell you about her sassiness:
Sassiness Part I: When Catherine was 16 her mother wanted her to marry her sister’s widower, however Catherine had no interest in this. So, to protest Catherine decided that she would not eat until her mother changed her mind, which she eventually did. This taught Catherine the power of fasting. Her mother did however still request that Catherine take more care of her appearance so that she would eventually attract a husband. How did Catherine respond? She chopped off her hair.
Sassiness Part 2: During Catherine’s life the reception of the Eucharist on a daily basis was very very rare, everyone had the mindset that they were not worthy to receive the Eucharist. She, however, declared that we will never be worthy and so that is no excuse to never receive the Eucharist. So, Catherine not only requested that she be able to receive the Eucharist often, she demanded it and not only did she demand it from local priests, but she went to the Bishops…and to the Pope…and eventually the Pope not only permitted her the reception of the Eucharist on a daily basis, but he also assigned her a priest to travel around with her and her own portable alter so that he could celebrate Mass….
Sassiness Part 3: Okay, last story. It was also common for Saint Catherine to receive the Eucharist mystically, brought to her by angels or Christ Himself. Her confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, told a story in his biography of Catherine that amazes me. One day Blessed Raymond was celebrating mass and was unaware that Catherine was present as she did not plan on receiving communion that day due to poor health, so she sat in the back of the Church and prayed. During the fraction of bread in the Eucharistic prayer, when Raymond went to break the host into the usual 2 halves, it broke into 3 and a piece fell to the altar…Raymond searched the altar and all around it frantically but found it no where. After Mass had ended, Catherine approached Raymond and heard of his distress about the missing piece of the Host. Catherine asked him if he searched the church well, and he responded with “Of course I did.” Catherine then replied with, “Well if you searched well then why are you distressed?”, note the sass. Raymond, realizing what had happened, accused Catherine of taking the missing host and she said in reply, “How dare you accuse me of such a thing! I did not take the Eucharist, but I can tell you who gave it to me…”, again sass. But I can’t tell you how much I love it. She then revealed that Christ Himself had appeared to her bearing the missing piece of the Host.
My love for this Saint is incredible, she has been so influential in bringing my heart to Christ. My favorite thing about Catherine is the reckless abandonment with which she gave her heart to God and the boldness she portrayed in proclaiming His love. To conclude, let me share with you one of my favorite passages from her famous Dialogues:
“And the eternal Father said, ‘And if anyone should ask me what this soul is, I would say: She is another me, made so by the union of love.'”
Saint Catherine of Siena, Pray for us!