April 29, 2011

St. Catherine of Siena

Domenico Beccafumi (Domenico di Giovanni di Pace). 1486 - 1551
Saint Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata 1513-5
Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. The Dominican's are not celebrating her feast, because it is still in the Octave of Easter (I assume it is moved rather than eliminated, but I am not certain when). I forgot about the feast this morning when the Bishop of London quoted St. Catherine in his address at the wedding of Catherine (aha!) Middleton to Prince William, but the entire address struck me powerfully (who talks about love and self-sacrifice rooted in Christ to millions and millions of people? Well done sir.) If you are who God wants you to be, you will set the world on fire. This is the famous quote of St. Catherine, and one well known, and deeply moving to Christians everywhere, with which the Bishop of London began his address. But it struck me how powerful this is spoken to Royals—who actually live in service, while we’re caught up in the glamour. And Miss Middleton chose this life, and chose to walk in service with an HRH. Besides all the gushing, and the hand-sewn lace, and those ridiculous trees placed in Westminster Abbey, we have two young people, by all accounts very much in love, who must live that love in public, and serve each other and the whole world—it is their duty to do so, and to therefore live well. What pressure? Is this what she was called for?

I can’t think of a better model, then, than that of Catherine of Siena. There was nothing glamorous about Catherine, nor was she a royal. But she stood up for Truth to princes and kings and popes, had more courage than all of Siena and Florence and the College of Cardinals combined, and was a true peacemaker (and a rather deft politician). She famously told Pope Urban to return to Rome from Avignon; she also held in her arms the head of a man who had made his peace with Christ but was being executed for his crimes. She was a little thing, she hardly ate, and yet she truly did set the world on fire, simply by following the way of Christ. What better patron can any of us hope for?

Other bloggers on St. Catherine: The Courtier, Pia de Solenni


  1. It's also the feast of the Theotokos, "The Life-giving Spring"! :-)


  2. Excellent post. Thank you for your thoughts on this.