As I was learning more about my faith, I heard many share with me who they chose as their patron saint. I kept thinking how does one choose that? I vaguely remember at confirmation it being a requirement to choose a Saint but if I did, I don’t remember who I chose.
Once I started to read more books and learn about my faith, there was always a Saint that would flutter my heart. St. Catherine of Siena was the Saint for me. My interest in her started about the same time the Catholic Church was being exposed for the awful sexual abuses. I remember our parish had a sense of divide. Some left since they could not separate the men who did harm from the Church, then there were those that followed the excommunicated priest to their own made up church, and others like me who stayed put.
The books I read about St. Catherine of Siena came at the right time. Her history is based on recognizing what the Church is and what it is not. Her determination to set things right and to share the intensity of following Christ. She was a Dominican and is a Doctor of the Church. Her main caveat was her effort and success in reforming the papacy during the 14th century when she convinced Pope Gregory XI to move back to Rome from Avignon.
My husband and I were blessed in 2006 to go on a Catholic pilgrimage to Italy. We really went into it blind not knowing what to expect. As a gift for our travels, a close friend of mine gave me a card she had wrote with a quote from St. Catherine. I thought…wow…it’s a sign. There’s a reason why I keep connecting to this Saint.
On our trip, we made a stop in Siena. What a gorgeous place! Picturesque walkways that would lead to the piazza/main square. Restaurants, bakeries, shops all set in medieval architecture. The end of our day, our hosts guided us to visit the Chapel of Saint Catherine, Basilica of San Domenico. Here only her incorruptible head entombed is shown. At first I was a bit freaked. Why was it that we only had her head and why was it shown? On the tour, our great host priests clarified that back in the day, many towns all over the world where the Saints walked had bits or pieces of their bodies for reverence purposes like bone fragments, clothing, “relics”. Also, many had miracles tied to them so the thought was spread them around for the chance of increased faith to grow.
This trip gave me a boost! A boost in love of faith. I felt like a warrior ready to get back home and go deeper! To get a grip and better understanding of the Church with guidance from St. Catherine. It’s amazing how much we can take for granted on what the Saints did for the Church, for us. If we took the time out and read up on a Saint, we would see how relevant their examples are to our day today. Most of the popular TV evangelists are not saying anything new. And the Saints that did speak about similar life issues, most likely did it with their life in the balance.
Another inspiring tidbit about St. Catherine…she’s the Patron Saint of Italy!!!! Of course!! Of course she would be. I have loved Italy for so long starting with pizza as a child, which led to Italian food, and then developed into it’s beauty, food, art, lifestyle. Of course she would include that for me too.
Hopefully, this will get you to thinking who would you like to read about? Google it! I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed.
Thank God for the Saints and thank you St. Catherine for always punching those words into my heart and set fire!+++