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Saint of the Day - Saint Catherine de Ricci (February 13)

Saint Catherine de Ricci was born with the birth name os Allesandra de Ricci in Florence, Italy to a wealthy merchant family in 1522.

Image of St. Catherine de Rice's remains from

Like so many saints, she lost a parent at a young age and was raised by a single parent. The Blessed Virgin Mary became Alexandra's mother. She was sent to live at the convent of Montivcelli, located in Florence. Her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. She spent many years in the convent.

She came out of the convent at an early age, only to join the Dominic a convent at Prat, located in Tuscany. It was there that she took the name Catherine. She was around 14 when she joined the convent. While still very young, she became thew Novice Mistress. At a still-tender age,, she became sub-prioress of her convent. She became Perpetual Prioress a Shortt time later at there age pot 25.

Her reputation for sanctity led many to visit her. These included three future popes: Cervini (the future Pope Marcella's II), Alexander de Medicis (Clement VIII), and Aldo Brandini (Leo XI). She also regularly corresponded with Saint Philip Neri. Interestingly, she would appear to him in Rome while she was still living and in Tuscany. She was widely known for her "ecstasy of the Passion", which she experience from either noon or 4:00 p.m. (depending on the source) every Thursday until 3:00 p.m. every Friday.

Saint Catherine was known fr at least four (4) miracles, two physical and two spiritual. In the first physical mystery, the nuns at the monastery where she lived (San Vincenzio - Saint Vincent Ferrer) discovered that their grain had gone bad. Grain was very important for making food, so it was vital. Saint Catherine prayed and then entered the granary where the spoiled grain was stored and walked barefoot across the spoiled grain. Miraculously, the grain was restored and the nuns could eat foods made from it.

The second physical miracle performed by Saint Catherine, there convent had caught fire. Catherine prayed and made the sign of the cross over the fire and the fire miraculously went out.

Apparently, the daughter of one of the prominent families near Catherine's convent allowed herself to be overcome by evil. The young woman than feigned a desire for holiness and requested entry into Catherine's convent of San Vincenzio. The young woman was accepted, and she began to live a life of apparent holiness based on her asceticism and patient acceptance of the suffering she experienced due to several severe illnesses.

In addition, the young woman would remain in her cell from Thursday midday through late afternoon on Friday. This behavior gave the appearance that she was experiencing a similar mystical experience of the Lord's passion. All of her behavior gave rise to many of the sisters believing in the deep holiness of this young woman.

However, doubts began to arise among some others including the priest confessor because the young woman never revealed anything of her interior life to him and neither did she request advice or spiritual direction. Some of the older sisters also expressed doubts because of the reserve which the young woman kept.

Catherine, herself, eventually realized that all of this was a ruse, and she joined with several other sisters in praying for the defeat of the enemy. At this point in time, the young woman under such strong possession listened to the voices of evil and tread upon the crucifix in her cell and she soon stood on the brink of hell with her denouncing of Christ.

Warned by her guardian angel, Catherine went to the young woman's cell and entered into it despite the great evil present. Catherine remained with the young woman and through her prayer and sacrifice was able to convince her of the great mercy of the Lord who alone could save her. The young woman then requested to make a general confession which she did. Through her deep repentance she turned completely from the evil that had threatened her eternal state. Several days later, she died in peace having received the mercy of the Lord and in full reconciliation with God as was revealed to Catherine..

The fourth miracle is also a spiritual miracle. In September of the same year as these other miracles, a young thief was sentenced to be executed for his crimes. This was an unexpected turn of events for the man who had only expected to serve time in prison. As a result of his impending death, he became inconsolable and hardened.

During those days, there were groups called the Brothers of Good Death who sought to minister to men sentenced to die in order to help them prepare for a holy death through repentance and trust in the mercy of God. With this thief, their efforts proved to be in vain. He had no interest in what they had to say. Thus, the brothers appealed to Catherine to pray for the man which she readily agreed to do and continued for some time.

Not many days after she began to pray for him, the man had a genuine conversion. He felt a great remorse for his crimes, repented of them, and began to peacefully prepare for his death. The young man accepted his capital punishment and offered up his suffering and death for reparation for the sins he had committed. The man reasoned that if our innocent Lord was willing to suffer and die, he, who had sinned against God and man, should be willing to accept a just sentence for his sins.

On the day of his death, the bells were rung to announce that the sentence had been carried out. Sr. Maddalena Strozzi heard them and encouraged Catherine to pray again for the young man. Catherine's reply was that she indeed had been praying all morning and would continue to do so. Later, Sr. Maddalena asked Catherine if she had hope for his salvation. Catherine replied that she did indeed believe that the man had been saved through God's mercy.

St. Catherine died after a long illness in 1589.


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