Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February 13: St. Catherine de Ricci, V., O.P., III Class

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of St. Catherine de Rici, virgin of the Order of Preachers.  The feast is III Class, so the Ordinary Office is prayed.  Like many II Class feast in the Breviary, her office contains propers as if the feast were II Class.  At Lauds, the Psalms of Sunday are prayed.

From the Martyrology yesterday:

At Prato in Etruria, St. Catherine de'Ricci of Florence, virgin, of the Order of Preachers. She was remarkable for the abundance of her divine gifts, and was canonized by the Sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XIV. She died rich in virtues and merit on February 2, but her feast is celebrated today.

Also, at Pretiosa today, we remember the obit of Fr. Aniceto Fernandez, 82nd Master General of the Order, who died on this day in 1981.  He gave his approval to the 1967 English translation of the Dominican Breviary, and his name appears on the title sheet.

From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):

St. Catherine de Ricci was born at Florence, Feb. 13 A.D. 1522, and from her earliest years gave manifest proofs of her future sanctity. When only three years old she prayed with the utmost recollection, and sought out silent and solitary places wherein to devote herself to this favorite exercise. She was daily visited by her guardian angel, who instructed her in sacred mysteries, trained her to meditate upon them, and taught her the devotion of the Holy Rosary, that she might early begin to love and honor the Mother of Him whose spouse she was destined to become.

At the age of thirteen she received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic in the Convent of Saint Vincent at Prato, which had been founded about thirty years previously by some disciples of the celebrated Savonarola. During her noviceship and the early years of her religious life, her continual interior conversation with the Divine Lover of her soul kept her in a state of almost constant abstraction; and as the holy maiden, in her simplicity, had never revealed, even to her Confessor, the supernatural favors which had been lavished on her from infancy, the Community thought her stupid and incapable and were very near dismissing her from the Convent. Shortly after her profession, she had several long illnesses, during which she suffered excruciating pains, and of which she was miraculously cured by repeated apparitions of Father Jerome Savonarola and his companions, or of some Saint of the Order.

In the year 1542 began those memorable ecstasies which were renewed every week for the space of twelve years, beginning at noon on Thursday and ending on Friday afternoon. During these ecstasies the closing scenes of our Lord's life were reproduced before her, and the movements of her body and the words which fell from her lips denoted the various stages of the Sacred Passion in which she was permitted thus mysteriously to take part.

On Easter Sunday of the same year, our Lord was pleased to celebrate Catherine's espousals with Himself, placing a ring on her finger with the words, "Receive, daughter, this ring as a pledge and token that thou art and ever shalt be Mine.  "On the following Friday the sacred stigmata were impressed on her hands, feet, and side, and from that time till her death they caused her great and continual pain. Later on, the crown of thorns was placed on her brow by her Divine Spouse, and those who nursed her in her illnesses were witnesses of another feature of resemblance to Him whom her soul loved. From her right shoulder down to her waist there was a wide, deep, livid furrow, impressed upon her by the Cross, which she bore in a mysterious manner every week with her Divine Master from the Praetorium of Pilate to the summit of Calvary.

Catherine had in her cell a large wooden crucifix to which she bore a tender devotion. Our Lord often spoke to her from this crucifix; and, on one occasion when she was praying before it, the figure detached itself from the cross and came to her. "Beloved Spouse," said Our Lord, " I come to seek in thy heart and in those of My daughters a refuge against the crimes of sinners which overwhelm Me." Of this miraculous event the whole Community were witnesses.

In the year 1552 the Saint was elected Prioress, and from that time until her death, a period of nearly forty years, she always held either that or the office of Subprioress. She set no bounds to her maternal solicitude for the well-being of those under her care.  When obliged to reprove her subjects for their faults, she made a point of always, before bedtime, speaking a kind word or giving some mark of tenderness to those whom she had had occasion to correct during the day. She perfectly realized in her life that union of action and contemplation which is the spirit of the Dominican Order. Whilst attending with the utmost care and prudence to every detail of the temporal and spiritual needs of a Community of nearly a hundred and sixty nuns, and busying herself also for the salvation and perfection of many souls outside the walls of her Convent, she was all the while closely united to God and raised to the highest states of prayer. Young maidens, pious matrons, professional men, wealthy Florentine nobles, even Bishops, gloried in calling her by the name of mother ; and she took a truly maternal interest in them all, as her letters amply testify. The poor were the objects of her special tenderness, and she desired that they should always be kindly received at the Convent, no matter how importunate they might be.  "Manage” she would say to the portress, "that no person shall ever leave the door without being comforted and relieved in some way or other."

Saint Catharine was on terms of sweet and holy friendship with Saint Philip Neri. They earnestly wished to meet; and God, who delights in fulfilling the desires of His servants, brought them face to face in a miraculous manner, as both Saints afterwards testified.  The poor souls in Purgatory often appeared to her soliciting her prayers, and she would take their sufferings upon herself to obtain their release. Often, too, she suffered as a victim of expiation for the sins of the world. Her prayer appeared to be continual. In going from one exercise to another, her lips were always in motion, reciting psalms, hymns, or rosaries; and everything she saw seemed to raise her mind to God.

Towards the close of January, A.D. 1590, the Saint was attacked by her last illness, which was of only a few days' duration; and, after receiving the Holy Sacraments with the utmost devotion, she happily departed to our Lord on the Feast of the Purification, whilst the angels were heard over the Convent singing harmoniously the words, " Come, O Spouse of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord hath prepared for thee from all eternity."

Many miracles were worked through her intercession. She was beatified by Clement XII, A.D. 1732, and canonized by Benedict XIV., A.D. 1746.


O Lord Jesus Christ, it was your will that the blessed virgin, Catherine, who loved you so intensely, should become illustrious by contemplating your passion; grant, through her intercession, that, devotedly recalling the mysteries of the passion, we may be worthy to poses its fruit.  For you live…