Dominican Saints 101: St. Catherine de Ricci

February 2, 2012

As with St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Catherine of Siena, and Bl. Catherine Racconigi, the Lord espoused Himself through a mystical marriage to St. Catherine de Ricci (1522-1590, feast – Feb. 4).  This marriage had two profound effects on Catherine’s life: it gave her a share in Christ’s love and also a participation in His Passion. From the time of her entrance into the Convent of Saint Vincent at Prato (Italy), St. Catherine had a deep love for the Lord, and she experienced mystical visions of Him.  He had such intimate conversations with her that she was often completely distracted from all else.  In fact the other sisters were ready to expel her from the convent because of her lack of attentiveness.  Eventually this intimate love culminated with the gift of a mystical espousal on Easter Sunday in 1542, where our Lord stated,

Receive, daughter, this ring as a pledge and token that thou are and ever shall be Mine.

This came soon after she began having regular ecstasies where she would relive moments of the Passion from noon on Thursday until Friday afternoon.  After the first of these visions, the Blessed Virgin appeared to her and revealed “The Canticle of the Passion” (see below) as a devotion to Christ’s sufferings.  She soon began to experience these sufferings in a most particular way when the Lord gave her first the stigmata, later a crown of thorns, and finally a sharing in the weight of His Cross which appeared as a wound across her right side where the Cross mystically rested.  Through all of this, the Lord sought to share His Passion with His beloved spouse so that she could cooperate in the salvation of sinners. May we, who are infinitely loved by Christ, likewise unite our suffering to His Cross in order to participate in the redemption of men. O lovable bride of Christ, blessed Catherine, your body bears the imprint of the bridegroom’s stigmata, and your soul is richly endowed with his charismatic gifts, protect us who honor you, and obtain for us the favors we ask.  Make us constantly mindful of the wounds of our crucified Lord, and through the merits of his death, may we, like you, obtain the reward.

Canticle of the Passion

The Canticle of the Passion has two parts based on the Scriptures and a line from the Te Deum. The first section is a compilation of the words of Christ on the Cross leading up to His death.  The second section is man’s response to the Passion.  The Canticle is traditionally chanted by Dominican cloistered nuns and many of the Friars around the world on Fridays in Lent.  Below are both a video from the Irish Province chanting the Canticle and also a translation of the text.   My friends and loved ones * draw near to me and stand aloof I am shut up and I cannot come forth * mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction and my sweat became like drops of blood * falling down on the ground For dogs have compassed me * the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me I gave my back to the smiters * and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair I hid not my face from shame * and from those who spit on me I am feeble and sore broken * I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart The soldiers platted a crown of thorns * and put it on my head They pierced my hands and my feet * I may tell all my bones They gave me poison to eat * and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink All they that see me laugh me to scorn * they shoot out the lip, they shake the head They look and stare upon me * they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture into your hands I command my spirit * redeem me, Lord, God of truth. Remember your servant, O Lord. * when you come into your kingdom Jesus cried with a loud voice * yielded up the ghost The Mercy of the Lord * I will sing for ever Surely he hath borne our griefs * and carried our sorrows He was wounded for our transgressions * he was bruised for our iniquities All we like sheep gave gone astray * we have turned every one to his own way And the Lord hath laid on him * the iniquities of us all Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord? * arise, and do not cast us off for ever Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord? * arise, and do not cast us off for ever Behold, God is my Savior * I will trust, and not be afraid We ask you, come to help your servants * whom you have redeemed by your perilous blood. V. Have mercy on us, O benign Jesus. R. Who in Thy clemency didst suffer for us. Look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, on this Thy family for which Our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered into the hands of the wicked, and suffer the torments of the Cross.

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