I have a soft spot for Saint Catherine of Siena whose feast it is today. Some years ago I read a book “I, Catherine” which was a selection of her writings.
As a mystic, activist and reformer and Doctor of the church she is one of the most extraordinary figures in the history of the church. At the age of eighteen she became a member of the Dominican Third Order. “She combined years of intense inner mystical life with devotion to the sick and the poor, especially during a famine in 1370 and an outbreak of plague in 1374.”
She preached and acted against the evils of poverty, and she preached and acted against the corruption of the church. Through her letters she encouraged Pope Gregory IX to return from Avignon to Rome. In the last two years of her life she was in Rome summonsed by Urban VI so she could support him. An antipope has been elected in opposition to him. She dies in 1380.
When I was in Rome I sent to the Church of Saint Mary above Minerva where Catherine is buried except her head, which is in the Basilica of St Dominic in Siena.
Kneeing at her tomb I asked that I remain faithful to Christs love for me.
“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 own 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.