SAINT CATHERINE DE’ RICCI (1522-1590), virgin and prioress – Patron saint of those suffering from illness
Today, the Church honors Saint Catherine de’ Ricci, a religious nun who was deeply devoted to meditating upon the Passion of Christ and who became renowned for living a life of holy sanctity.
Baptized Alexandrina, she was born in 1522 in Florence, Italy. Alexandrina’s mother died when she was still an infant. When she was between the age of six and seven years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli which was near the gates of Florence, and where her aunt, who was a religious sister, continued to raise and educate her.
Attracted to a life of sanctity, Alexandrina, at the age of fourteen, received the veil for the Order and professed her vows, taking the name Catherine and living in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat in Tuscany, Italy.
For two years, she suffered indescribable pains for which there was no remedy. Her only recourse was to prayer and meditation on the Passion of Christ. Surrendering herself to the will of God, she was able to empty from herself all desire for earthly things and grow in the state of holy sanctity through her sufferings.
While Sister Catherine was still very young, she was chosen to be mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, at the age of twenty-five, was appointed perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, earthly princes, and cardinals of the Church, including three who were later raised to the Chair of Saint Peter, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.
It was reported that while Sister Catherine was meditating on the Passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, and to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o’clock on Friday afternoon, she experienced spiritual ecstasies, in which she was enveloped in the wonder of Christ’s Love.
After a prolonged illness, Catherine’s soul was received by her Divine Spouse on February 2, 1590, at the age of sixty-seven. She was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746.
We commemorate her feastday on February 13.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Virgins)
“Lord, hear the prayers of those who recall the devoted life of the virgin Saint Catherine. Guide us on our way and help us to grow in love and devotion as long as we live.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”