Today we keep the feast of St Catherine of Siena, one of strangest and most intriguing of the Churches saints. Born in 1347 she was an uneducated woman from an ordinary family and became in the course of a very short life “an object of fascination to thousands, a counsellor to kings’ queens and popes.” She was a mystic. She became a third order Dominican and combined intense prayer with devotion to the sick and poor. She felt the call to preach against poverty and the corruption of the church. In 1376 this young and uneducated woman confronted Pope Gregory 11th to return to Rome from Avignon, which he did.
In the gospel for this feast we read the words of Jesus: “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do.” Jesus chooses the weak and despised, to teach the mighty and proud.
In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her Doctor of the church, the only lay woman to receive this title in the history of the church.
You must love others with the same pure love with which I love you. But you cannot do this for me because I love you without being loved by you…you cannot repay me. But you must give this love to other people, loving them without being loved by them. You must love them without any concern for your spiritual or material profit, but only for the glory and praise of my name, because I love them.
Jesus speaking to Catherine in The Dialogue.