Saturday, February 27, 2016

200. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part five


We were talking of her miracles regarding the curing of the sick

Messer Matteo was the Rector of Misericordia hospital. He contracted plague and became a patient in his own hospital. He gave his dying confession to Raymond and described his symptoms. A doctor said that his symptoms were far advanced.  Meanwhile Catherine heard about his illness.  She came to see him. She started shouting before she reached him, “Get up, Messer Matteo, this is no time to rest in a soft bed!”At these words Matteo smiled. He got up, completely cured!. The fever, and painful swelling  in the groin, vanished. As she was leaving the hospital, she met Raymond, who was unaware that his friend had been cured. He begged her to cure him. She humbly said, “…Do you think I am God…?” Raymond said, a little harshly, “You can say that to anyone else, but not to me, for I know your secrets….”. She smiled and said, “ Cheer up, he won’t die this time.” The other witness to this miracle was Nicolo di Andrea, who was present throughout the event . Besides, hospital  staff and other priests were also present.

There was a certain saint and hermit Fra Santi__a true saint. Holy virgin found him dying in his hermitage. She whispered in his ear, “Have no fear. You are not going to die this time.”She had him moved to Misericordia hospital. He got worse by the hour. Death seemed to be very near.

When Catherine returned to the hospital she saw the advanced state of his disease. She again whispered in his ear, “Don’t be afraid, because you won’t die.”

Santi remained very sick for several days, much longer than the usual time for such patients to live. Catherine visited him in the end. This time she shouted in his ear, “I command you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ not to die.”At that point Santi revived. He sat up and asked for something to eat. He lived for many years afterwards and was present at St Catherine’s death.

Santi told Raymond and others later what holy virgin had said in his ear. He considered it a real miracle, genuine resuscitation. The power that had cured him was Divine Power. He was believed due to his sanctity. For nearly thirty-six years he had been living an absolutely blameless life as a hermit and was held in the deepest respect.

She cured many others during the epidemic of plague, including Raymond, which I have already described (blog 196). When she visited Pisa she cured a youth of about 20 years who had been suffering from quotidian fever (a type of malaria) for eighteen months. He had lost all his strength.  When holy virgin saw his pale face she was filled with compassion. She said to him, “Go, son, with the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, for I do not want you to suffer from the fever anymore.”He was completely cured. I (Raymond) was myself a witness to this event. I also saw him quite healthy several years later.

A woman named Gema suffered from quinsy. Inside of her throat was completely blocked and she was near suffocation. She came to Catherine and said to her, “Mother if you do not help me I am going to die.” Catherine had compassion on the woman. She put her hand on her throat and made the sign of cross over her. She got cured at once.

There were two devout young men who used to take down her letters. They are both still alive( writes Raymond). One of them was called Neri and the other Stefano. Neri became sick while they were all visiting Genoa. He developed pain in his bowels. The attacks of pain were so severe that he would howl with pain. He would crawl on the floor to find some position to alleviate the pain. Everybody was filled with mercy but nobody could do anything. Catherine was approached by Raymond and others. For some reason she did not immediately come to his rescue but advised standard medical treatment. Maybe, Lord wanted her not to intervene at that time. Two doctors started treatment, but Neri got worse. Raymond described his condition to the other Friars at supper. Stefano got up, and with tears in his eyes, went to the virgin’s room and threw himself at her feet. He asked her, humbly, to help his brother and companion who had come on this journey for love of God and herself, and not to let her corpse remain on foreign land.

Catherine replied that if God wanted to reward him for his good deeds, Stefano should not be upset, one should learn to submit oneself to the will of God. But Stefano was unmoved by these arguments. He kept on begging. Finally holy virgin said, that if Neri did not get better by morning, Stefano should remind her when she goes to church to receive Communion, and she would pray to the Lord. Next morning after she had received Communion, as usual, she went into ecstasy. After she had recovered she turned to Stefano and said “You have received the grace you wanted”. “Will he get better?” Stefano asked. “Off course he will get better” she replied. Neri indeed recovered. But Stefano got sick.

To be continued


Saturday, February 20, 2016



199. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part four


Catherine’s fame spread. She became known, as a saint, in the provinces of Tuscany and Lombardy. She was invited to preach in various villages and towns. She preached for six months in Pisa. Her fame spread to Florence, the second largest city in Italy. It reached the ears of Pope, who lived in Avignon. She visited the Pope in Avignon. She died in Rome, the largest city in Italy.

She changed from a girl who lived in her parent’s home and was not allowed to go out without escort, as was the custom in 14th century Italy for unmarried girls, to a fearless leader of men.  In a society ruled by men, she commanded men. How did that happen? The clue to this riddle is provided succinctly by her biographer. The clue was her one important talk with Jesus. He invited her to open the door to other souls (so that Jesus could enter in them). Jesus said, “Do you remember that you wanted to dress as a man so that you could become a male friar? Now I want you to live out”.  She was stunned with the idea of leaving the security of her cell and to enter public life

She replied, “But I am a woman and ignorant”

“In my eyes, there is neither male nor female…” He made a long speech which readers can find in the book (1). Thus, she was told to leave the sheltered life of her home, and work with others. She told Raymond, in confession, that when the Lord ordered her she felt such a sharp pain in her heart that it seemed as though it was going to burst. He said, “I wish to bind you more closely to myself, by means of love of the neighbor”.

She was told to join her family at the dining room table; a practice she had not done for years.

She took charge of the household chores. She talked of God with anybody who would listen. Some persons liked her talk. Soon a band of friends and followers developed around her. They would gather in her little room. They prayed together. They sang together. They listened to her when she was intimately talking to God. They would watch in amazement when she would go in ecstasy. Her body would become rigid like a statue. Sometimes she would be lifted up towards the ceiling.

Her fame spread by word of mouth of her followers. She exhibited miracles. She helped the poor. She cured the sick. She would go to the hospital, in the night, carrying a lantern. Sometimes she would stay in the hospital for the whole night. They gave her a room in the hospital.

Now let me give some more details about the five aspects of her life which I mentioned in the beginning, in blog 196.

Miracles. She performed hundreds of miracles. It is difficult to classify them. Let us see. Here is my crude classification:

1.       Curing the sick

2.       Reading thoughts

3.       Knowing of somebody  else’s secret from the past

4.        Saw people coming to visit her while still at a distance

5.       Heard a person miles away calling her for help

6.       Prophecies

7.       Multiplication of edibles

8.       Influencing the minds of persons, near and far.

9.       Her face changed

10.   Inanimate things obeyed her

11.   Miracles after death

12.   Levitation

13.   Not burnt by fire

14.   Driving out evil spirits

I have not included the miracles which nobody else could see. Like her visions, her ring, a garment from Jesus, her stigmata, and her conversations with Jesus. Her ability to read (though illiterate), and her knowledge of Bible (though she did not have a teacher), if not miracles, are miraculous. How to classify ecstasy and rapture?


The story of her curing her own mother, Lapa, is most amazing. Lapa was an intensely worldly person and hated to die. She became very sick. On her mother’s urging, Catherine pleaded with the Lord to cure her. The Lord answered that it would be better for her to die now and be spared of all the miseries that she would otherwise have to endure. The virgin went to her mother and told her to resign herself to the impending death. Lapa was inconsolable. She asked her daughter to do anything she possibly could to prevent her death. Catherine implored the Lord with all her might. Finally Lord said, “tell your mother,…..that the time will come when she will beg for death, and it will not come”. Lapa did not even confess

God suddenly permitted her to die without confession. Catherine was beside herself with grief that Lapa had died without any sacraments of the Church.

She felt cheated by the Lord. She vowed not to move from that place till her mother was returned to her alive.

There were three women witnesses (whose names Raymond gives and were still alive when Raymond wrote his book) present at that time who saw the death of Lapa and heard the Virgin’s words.

The Virgin prayed and prayed at the bedside with copious tears. After a short time, suddenly, Lapa’s body began to move. She recovered completely and lived till the age of eighty-nine.

So many misfortunes fell on Lapa, that she used to say, “But why has Lord put my soul back in my body. ….so many of my dear relatives have died….Am I alone not allowed to die…..?”

To be continued

Saturday, February 13, 2016

198. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part three


We were analyzing the first vision of Catherine when she was six years old.

Just as tired, thirsty, hungry, hot, desert travelers sometimes see vision of oasis with green palm trees and canals of water, in the sky ( called mirage), so did Catherine. This hallucination is created by the extremely tired and exhausted mind of the person. The normal inhibitory guards which prevent the brain to make such false images, all the time, are down and out, due to the exhaustion of brain, the lack of blood supply from dehydration and build up of toxic chemicals.  Similar situation arises from sickness, lack of sleep and fasting. An important requirement is that brain should have prior pictures of such scenes in its photo-library. None of these situations were applicable in the case of Catherine, so this explanation is out.

The other explanation is that an external powerful force created this novel image back in her brain. The image was projected out in the sky where she could see it. And only she could see it, because only her brain had the image. The third possibility is that image in the sky was real. Her brain was modified to see the image. Just as only a man with night vision goggles can see an object in pitch dark or only an infra red telescope can see stars billions of mile away because it uses infra red rays, not available to the human eye. In either case the power of Jesus Christ made it possible. I am not at all doubtful of the authenticity of this and her other hundreds of visions (unlike modern day public) because I have given accounts of similar happenings. It has happened in a minor way with me. How did Qalandar-a-azam (QA) know about Dr Manocha? I quote from blog 184:

                             Then he(QA) suddenly said “He has a Hindu friend (Dr. Manocha) who is a good man, a pious man, a man near to Allah”.  The great mystic was 6-7 thousand miles away from my Hindu friend and had never met him or heard of him.  How did he know about my friend?  ? He also said that the desire to live has gone in him (mkadk)( blog 195). How could he say about me, unless he was looking at me from thousands of mile afar, “Although QA was careful to state that I will get my goal at age 78 ( or earlier ), only if I live that long”. Those who have read blog 195 will agree that I have no desire to live, but how did QA know about it? I also resort to counting during my four hour meditation session, because the session is too long. QA sent a mild rebuke. He said,( or words to that effect) “One should not count. And this business of being a stickler about four hours. One should not be fixated about time. Sometimes one hour is better than four hours”. Such intimate knowledge about me, although we had and have never met. I have written multiple blogs on supernatural events (blogs 102-112)

 Catherine started taming her body. She started eating less and less (in the end almost nothing), sleeping less and less, and talking less and less (for three years). She would isolate herself in her own cell with Jesus (later her father gave her a room, after he saw a white dove coming out of her room). She scourged her body (discipline) three times a day, an hour and a half each time, with a chain tipped with iron hooks, causing the blood to flow down her shoulders. These penances took their toll. She used to be a strong girl who could carry sacks of grain from cellar to the attic, but she was reduced to a thin and frail woman, who suffered from pain for the rest of her life and died at the age of thirty-three.

She took vow of chastity after seeing this vision:

She saw a vision of Jesus with glorious Virgin Mother, Prophet David, and many saints. Mary presented her to Jesus and asked Him to marry her to Himself in faith. He accepted and gave her a gold ring with four pearls and a diamond. He put the ring in her finger. He said…….. “From this time daughter act firmly and decisively…..that I ask you to do…,.” The vision disappeared, but the ring always remained on Catherine’s finger, though no one else could see it but her.

She considered herself His spouse. She took a vow of chastity, which was a big deal in 14th century Italy. Her mother could not understand it. Her brothers were upset. She was initially persecuted but later on everybody accepted it.

She joined the Order of St Dominic after having this dream. St Dominic and founders of various Orders were in the dream. They asked her to select one Order .She recognized St Dominic and moved toward him. He had the habit of Sisters of Penance of St Dominic in his hands. He said comforting words. She woke up with tears of happiness.


1.       ‘The life of ST. Catherine of Siena’ by Blessed Raymond of Capua, Confessor to the saint. Translated by George Lamb.

2.       ‘Catherine of Siena , a biography’ by Anne Baldwin



Saturday, February 6, 2016



197. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part two


We were discussing the conversion of Raymond of Capua.

Initially, in 1374, he was skeptic of her numerous visions and her endless torrent of words about God. Was she imagining all these visions? I quote Raymond: “…… I feel myself obliged to reveal things………so no incredulous person may say, “She was the only person…….there were no witnesses….she is simply giving her own account…..perhaps her account is not true….she could have been mistaken or be telling lies.”

 I quote Raymond:

“It occurred to me that if I could be certain that Catherine’s prayer had brought me a great and unaccustomed contrition for my sins it should be perfect proof that all her actions were guided by the Holy Spirit….because only Holy Spirit can do that.”. He went to Catherine and begged her to pray for him and ask God specially to forgive his sins.”She said she would be delighted to do so. He called it a ‘Bull’

Next morning he became sick and was confined to bed. She, with a companion came to see him, and as usual started talking about God. Raymond writes, “As she was talking….there came before my mind an unusual vision of my sins. I saw myself naked before the judgment seat of God…….Under the effect of these reflections , or rather utterly clear visions, ……I burst into tears so violently that I almost felt my heart would break….she stopped talking and let me cry and sob…… “ is this the Bull I asked yesterday?” I said”

“It is” She replied. Tapping me on the shoulder, she said, “Never forget the graces of God”

“This I say in the presence of God, knowing I do not lie”.

One morning he was called to her bedside. She was too sick to rise. She continued her several hours long previous night conversation about God.  Let me quote Raymond: “What I heard was so extraordinary __ nothing of a like kind ever happens to anyone else. That I ungratefully forgot the first grace I had received through her (the Bull)…..I felt doubtful as to whether what she said was true. As I looked at her lying in bed, her face changed to that of a strange man who , fixing grave eyes upon me inspired me with great fear…………..I raised my hand and cried out “ Who are you, looking at me?” The virgin replied, “He who is.” Virgin’s face reappeared.

“I vow this is true As God is my witness”.


Raymond was not the only confessor and companion of Catherine. She had dozens of close disciples; men and women. They all considered her their fearless leader and sought her holy company. Apart from Raymond and Thomas, the other confessors and confidants were Tomasso Caffarini and Bartholomew Dominic; the later wrote valuable incidents of her life. Critics should pay particular attention to the word confessor, because confession is a sacrosanct religious ritual; Saint Catherine won’t be telling lies in confession, and confessors won’t be lying about her private conversations in the books.

Alessia, Lisa, and Cecca were her true female friends. They are always mentioned by the male writers. They stayed with her for most of her life till the day of her death, and took care of her body needs. Alessia arranged her whole life that she could be with her holy friend.


The extraordinary journey towards God of this saint started when she was approximately six years old. She was with her brother Stefano travelling over the lane of Valle Piatta when she happened to look up. She saw a beautiful bridal chamber hanging in the air. There was an imperial throne in it. Jesus Christ was sitting on it, dressed in monarchial papal attire. With him were the Apostles Peter and Paul and the holy evangelist John. The little girl gazed unblinkingly, uprooted to the ground. He looked directly in her eyes. Jesus came towards her and blessed her with making the sign of the Cross over her. She was taken out of her and entirely into Him. She became oblivious of herself and her surroundings and stood in the middle of the street. Meanwhile, Stefano had gone ahead, thinking that his sister was with him. When he realized that she was standing way behind, he shouted at her. But she did not move. He came back and shook her. She woke up, as if from a deep sleep, and said, “If you could see what I saw, you would not have been so cruel to disturb me.” She raised her eyes again but the vision had vanished. She burst into tears.

Let me analyze this vision with the additional knowledge of six centuries. It is clear that Jesus did not actually appear in the sky in a physical body because if that had been the case, everybody in the street would have seen Him sitting on the throne. This was an imaginary scene which only Catherine could see.  Why? There are three possibilities:

To be continued


1.       ‘The life of ST. Catherine of Siena’ by Blessed Raymond of Capua, Confessor to the saint. Translated by George Lamb.

2.       ‘Catherine of Siena , a biography’ by Anne Baldwin