Monday, February 14, 2011

SANTA CATALINA DE RICCI: Virgin and Tertiary


Virgin and Tertiary

            In 1522, Alexandrina was born in Florence from the noble de’ Ricci family.  She received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic in the convent of San Vincenzio at Prato, Italy when she was 13.  She was given the name Catherine at her profession the following year, and with the assumption of this new name she embraced a life of severe penance, but one distinguished also by unusual mystical experiences.  At first she endured many physical afflictions,  which seem to be aggravated by ordinary medical treatment, but her agonies were sanctified by prayer and meditation on the Passion of Our Lord.

            During Holy Week of 1542, when Catherine was 20, she experienced the first of her ecstasies, in which she saw enacted, in sequence, the scenes of Our Lord’s Passion.  The ecstasies, which were repeated every week for twelve years, began at midday every Thursday and ended on Friday at 4:00 p.m.  During these raptures her body would move in conformity with the movements of Our Lord, and she would occasionally address exhortations to those witnessing her sufferings.

            On Easter Sunday of the same year, Our Lord appeared to her, took a ring from His finger and placed it on the forefinger of Catherine’s left hand in commemoration of their Mystical Espousal.  The Prioress described the ring as being gold and set with a large pointed diamond, but others saw it only as a swelling and reddening of the flesh, which various experiments could neither duplicate or erase.

            The wounds of the Sacred Stigmata, located in her hands, feet, and side and those wounds inflicted by the crown of thorns were variously described by people who viewed them.  Some declared that the hands were pierced through and bleeding; others perceived a brilliant light that dazzled their eyes; and still others saw the wounds as being healed but red and swollen.

            After a lengthy illness, Saint Catherine de’ Ricci died on February 2, 1590, at the age of 68, and was canonized by Pope Benedict IV in 1746.

                        O Lord, you were pleased that the Blessed Virgin Catherine be made illustrious by the contemplation of the Passion of your Son; grant that, through her intercession and recalling devotedly the same mysteries, we may deserve to experience their effects. This we ask you through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


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