March 16, 2014

Blessed Catherine of Racconigi

Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, T.O.S.D., (1487 – 1574, Racconigi) was an Italian member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, who is recognized for being a mystic and a stigmatic.

Catherine Mattei (Italian: Caterina Mattei) was born in the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy in 1487 into an impoverished household. The name of the location where she was born and raised is not recorded in the annals, other than it was in the Province of Cuneo. Her father was an unemployed locksmith while her mother was a weaver who was the one able to support the family through her labors. As is common in that situation, her father was often depressed and quarrelsome, thus the family environment was usually one of conflict.

At the age of 5 she began to have visions of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. She would also begin to have visions of other saints such as the Dominicans Catherine of Siena and Peter Martyr. The Virgin told her that Jesus wanted to have her as his Bride, as a token of which she was given a wedding ring, which she had all her life--but which only she could see. She began to have frequent ecstasies and visions of Jesus, who always appeared to her as the same age she was at the time of the vision.

Many miracles would result from her visions: a broken dish was made whole again, and money and food would be provided when the family’s poverty was extreme. In times of trial the heavenly hosts came to comfort the girl, who received great consolation from the aspiration, "Jesus, my hope!"

Blessed Catherine eventually joined the Dominican Order herself, but, like St. Catherine, she was opposed in this wish by her family. As a result, instead of entering a monastery of the cloistered nuns of the Order, she became a tertiary of the Order, continuing to live with her family. As the visions increased she received the stigmata, although, like her ring, her wounds were concealed until after her death.

Her mystical experiences roused a storm of gossip among her neighbors, who were terrified at the lights and sounds that came from her home; even the Dominican friars began to ostracize her. Eventually she was forced out of the town and settled in the city of Racconigi. During her lifetime, Catherine was sought for counsel and prayer. She would keep in her prayers in a special way the salvation of soldiers who were dying in battle.

Many miracles took place before and after her death and her detractors came to acknowledge the holiness of her life. Her cult was approved in 1810 by Pope Pius VII.

O Lord, our Hope, who didst enrich with an abundance of celestial gifts the heart of Blessed Catherine, already filled with Thee, grant, through the intercession of that glorious Virgin, that He may be wholly fastened to our hearts, who for our sakes was wholly fastened to the cross, Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, Pray for us, Amen..

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