Justice: A Forgotten Virtue

April 4, 2024

Forgotten Truths

From The Life of Saint Catherine of Sienna By Blessed Raymond of Capua

The following fact will show the extent of her patience. It will redound to the shame of a few religious, but it is better to publish it than to be silent concerning the gifts that the Holy Ghost lavished on that faithful soul.

Catherine could scarcely perform any public exercise of piety, without exciting a calumny, and drawing upon herself the persecutions of those same individuals who ought to have defended and encouraged her; and let us not be astonished: Religious who have not perfectly overcome their self-love, allow their jealousy to carry them farther than persons in the world. As the Sisters of Penance saw Catharine, yet so young, surpassing all the others by the austerity of her life, the severity of morals, and the fervor of her prayer and a sublime contemplation, some among them were seduced by Satan, and began through envy to censure her conduct, and denounce her to some religious of the Order. If some extolled her virtue, and proved it by things evident to all, others, maintained that she was instigated by an evil spirit. Those females, genuine descendants of Eve, acted so adroitly that they seduced Adam himself, that is to say, the Superiors of the Convent of St Dominic, who would not receive her, refused her Holy Communion, and even went so far as to deprive her of her Confessor. She supported the whole with patience and without murmuring, as though she were not the injured one, and no one ever heard her utter the smallest complaint.

The Miraculous Communion of Saint Catherine of Siena painting by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi.

If they allowed her to approach Communion, they exacted that she should terminate her prayers directly and leave the church, which was wholly impossible; for, she received Holy Communion with so much fervor, that she lost the use of her senses; her body became completely insensible, and she remained in that state for several hours. Those whom the Sisters had misled, became furious at this; they would take her during her ecstasies, carry her away in a rough, even brutal manner, and throw her down at the Church door as though she were the most contemptible of human beings. Her companions bathed in tears, remained around her to protect her, exposed to the burning rays of the noonday sun, and awaiting the moment in which she would return to herself. Some individuals gave her furious blows with the foot, whilst she was in ecstasy, and nevertheless she never uttered a word of reproach; she never even mentioned that ill-treatment except to excuse those who made her suffer! But the more she remained patient, amid these injuries, the more her Divine Spouse, who is justice Itself, was provoked against her persecutors, and punished them severely. I know this by the Confessor who preceded me and from several persons worthy of confidence.

St. Catherine of Siena Invested with the Dominican habit by St. Dominic, St. Augustine, and St. Francis.

A woman, who gave her a blow with the foot, during an ecstasy, was taken, just as she entered her house, with agonizing pains, and expired directly, without being able to receive the Last Sacraments. Another wretch also struck her with the foot, and carried her to the door of the Church, offering her the grossest injuries; his punishment was awful; that man (whom I knew perfectly well) not only behaved odiously towards Catherine, but he even designed to kill her. A few days after, the unhappy individual, without any apparent cause, became enraged as though he was possessed by the devil; he shrieked continually: “In mercy help me! See, here comes the executioner to cut off my head!” The occupants of the house were anxious to encourage and comfort him, but they soon perceived by his words and gestures that he had entirely lost his reason; they therefore watched him closely, because they discovered that he was tempted to commit suicide. Some time after, as he appeared more calm, the care diminished; he found means of escape, and went like Judas to hang himself! I have this fact from the very person that found his corpse; he was not buried in consecrated ground, but in a ditch, as he well merited.


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