Spirituality for Today – February 2013 – Volume 17, Issue 7

Saint of the Month
Catherine dei Ricci

February 2

A painting of Saint Catherine dei RicciSaint Catherine dei Ricci

Alexandria dei Ricci was born into a wealthy Florentine family in 1522. At age 13, Alexandrina entered a Dominican convent in Prato, which was run by her uncle, and she took the name of Catherine. She was so devout and capable that she quickly advanced into leadership positions. First, she was named novice-mistress and sub-prioress. Her spirituality deepened, and when Catherine was just 30 years old, she was named permanent prioress of the convent. In addition to her administrative duties, Catherine devoted herself to helping the poor and sick.

Meanwhile, Catherine started experiencing incredible visions. Once, for example, she conversed at length from her convent in Prato, with Philip Neri, who was in Rome at the time.

Every week for 12 years, Catherine relived Jesus' last hours, experiencing everything as Jesus had. Even her bodily movements corresponded to those of Jesus. Although she appeared to be unconscious, Catherine would stretch out her hands to be arrested and then stand for the scourging and bend her head for the crown of thorns, just as Christ had done. Each time, Catherine also received the stigmata – the impression of the five wounds of Christ. Word of Catherine's holiness became so widespread that the convent was flooded with visitors, including princes and three future popes.

After a life devoted to worship and serving others, Catherine died on February 2, 1590. She was canonized in 1747 by Pope Benedict XIV.

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus,
while before Thy face I humbly kneel,
and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity, true contrition for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment;
the while I contemplate with great love and tender pity
Thy five wounds pondering them over within me,
whilst I call to mind the word which David, Thy Prophet,
said of Thee, my Jesus:
"They have pierced my hands and my fees,
they numbered all my bones."

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives.