Saturday, April 30, 2016


209. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part fourteen

We were discussing the miracles after death of St. Catherine.

10    A woman on a pilgrimage from Germany could hardly see from her eyes due to some eye disease. She prayed to the holy virgin for improvement of her vision and vowed. After a short interval her vision got much better. She visited the tomb of St Catherine.

11.   A Roman lady by the name of Maria lost the vision of one eye and had pain. She went into seclusion from shame. She devoutly prayed to Catherine. One night Catherine appeared in her dream and told her to throw away her medicines and attend Mass every morning and she will be cured. The pain stopped at once. Vision also improved. As she continued attending the Mass she was completely cured.

12.   A youth named Giacomo and a Roman woman Cilia de Petruccio, both, were near their end by diseases. Both were cured by praying to Catherine.

13.   A servant woman, Bona di Giovanni, was washing a quilt. The heavy water-soaked quilt could not be managed by Bona and started being taken away by the water current along with the helpless woman. She called out, “O’ holy virgin, Catherine of Siena, save me from this great danger”. Suddenly, the quilt, along with Bona, started moving towards the bank, and landed there. The woman, in all honesty, thought that it was a miracle.

14.   Raymond was told of the above mentioned miracles, but here is one miracle part of which he personally witnessed:

15.   A young Roman, Nicolo, was suffering from a throat disease called quinsy. The air passage was close to complete blockage, which would have lead to his death. Alexia, the great companion of Late Catherine, was a friend of Nicolo family. She had a tooth of Catherine in her possession. She rushed to the patient, put the tooth close to  his face  and begged Catherine to cure him. Immediately there was a noise as if something had burst. Foul matter came out and he was cured.

     On one occasion Raymond was preaching and he told the story of this miracle. As it                  happened Nicolo was in the audience. He stood up and corroborated the episode.

16.   In 1384, head of St Catherine was brought to Siena from Rome. A solemn reception was held. Raymond arranged a lunch for the friars and the guests to celebrate the occasion. Due to some mistake bread was found to be inadequate; it was enough for five persons whereas there were about fifty people to feed. The Prior immediately sent two friars to friendly houses to collect more bread.  They did not return for some time. Prior ordered for loaves to be served to the guests. I quote Raymond, “…either in the bin, or on the table, or somewhere or other, those loaves by Catherine’s merits multiplied miraculously to such an extent that ……everybody was able to eat as much as they liked …..”. “ …I turned to the guests, and said, ‘Our mother did not want this day to go without a miracle for us, …she wanted to show that our ceremony pleased her…”’

Levitation. I have already mentioned it in blog 196

Not burnt by fire. Once Catherine was sitting by the fire and rotating the spit. She fell in an ecstasy. Her sister-in-law, Lisa, saw it and removed her hand from the spit. Lisa got busy in other chores in the house and did not return to Catherine for several hours. As it happened, Catherine had fallen over the burning embers. Lisa shrieked and dragged her out of the fire. She found out that Catherine’s clothes and body were unaffected by the fire. There was no smell of burning. There was not the slightest trace of ash on her dress.

One day, in church, a lighted candle fell on the veil covering Catherine’s head, while she knelt. The candle kept on burning till all the wax was consumed and then the flame went out. It did not burn the veil and did no harm to Catherine.

This miracle was watched by many of her companions, including Lisa, Alexia, and Francesca.

Driving out evil spirit. A modern man like me does not know what to do with this section, because in modern time we do not see evil spirits possessing human beings. Modern science calls it Hysteria. Jesus Christ drove out demons and Saint Catherine drove out demons, as mentioned in detail by Raymond. I cannot describe them as they were not miracles, but recovery from sicknesses by the grace of Jesus

Close proximity to Jesus. She was extremely close to Jesus. This closeness was acquired after she won an epic battle with the forces of evil for several days. She was a young woman at that time. It started with carnal temptations. She fought them with great fortitude. It progressed to men and women performing vile sexual acts. Foul acts and obscene words were presented to her mind. Throngs of shameless crowds invited her to join them. She would retreat to church, where she would get some help, but not complete protection.

One night a great light appeared and lit the room. Bleeding Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross, was in that vision and her battle ended . She bitterly complained for not helping her.

To be continued

Saturday, April 23, 2016


208. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part thirteen


We were discussing the extraordinary vision that Semia was made to see just at the time of Saint Catherine’s death. A beautiful small girl with facial features of Catherine emerged from a silver tabernacle and joined Jesus, Blessed Virgin and other virgins. Semia had said to herself that if the dream was a creation of the Devil she would miss the Mass and face the anger of her sons for dinner being late. All for oversleeping on account of the dream.

She did not miss the Mass, her sons were very pleased by the delicious food, and she was confronted by a genuinely supernatural event of cooked dinner!

She found the door of Catherine’s house closed. She was told by somebody that Catherine had gone to church.  As a matter of fact the body of Catherine had been secretly removed from the house and kept in the chapel behind iron railing in the church of Santa Maria. This was done to avoid the swarm of crowds who would want to touch the dead person’s clothes and feet. They were afraid that the clothes and body may be torn to pieces. Although they tried to keep the secret but soon the news spread in Rome that Saint Catherine had died.

Semia was going home. She happened to pass that church and seeing the crowd asked the reason. She was told that Catherine had died and her body was inside. She shrieked in grief and cursed the women who had misled her. The women apologized and told the reason. Semia was mollified. She then told the crowd that she witnessed the passing of Catherine and her emergence from the silver tabernacle, in a dream. They realized that she was shown this vision to witness the events that transpired as her soul left her body and how Catherine was exalted. So, Semia was the agent chosen to tell it to the world and thus enhance her glory.


There are dozens of miracles of cure of sick, after her death. Here are some that have been narrated by Raymond in his book. Raymond was not in Rome at the time of her death. People told him these events when he tried to collect them for posterity. Catherine could not be buried for three days due to the swarm of people around her dead body.

1.       A nun by the name of Domenica could not use her one arm for six months due to some disease. She could not reach her corpse.  She, therefore, gave her veil to somebody to touch the virgin’s body. When she got it back she put it on her arm. Her arm was immediately cured.

2.       A four year old boy had sinews of his neck contracted due to some disease. Catherine’s arm was made to touch his neck and her veil was wrapped around his neck. After an interval his neck was completely cured.

3.       Lucio di Cannarola’s one leg was affected by weakness. With great difficulty he could drag himself with a crutch. He placed virgin’s hand on her leg. He felt an immediate improvement and his leg got cured before he left the church.

4.       A girl named Ratozola had terrible leprosy of the face. There was a stinking mass of tissue at her nose and upper lip. She forced herself to the proximity of Catherine’s body against the resistance of people. She touched her diseased parts to virgin’s hands, feet and even her face.  She got rid of the horrible disease after sometime and her face became absolutely normal.

5.       Ciprio and his wife Lella had a daughter who suffered from consumption.  No treatment had worked. The parents brought the girl to Catherine. The girl touched her veil and some beads which had been in contact with the virgin’s body. She got cured.

6.       A Roman citizen by the name of Antonio de Lello was passing by the church. When he heard of the miracles he prayed to the virgin to help him get better. He promised a votive offering if he got better. He got better. He fulfilled his promise and told of the miracle to others.

7.       A pious woman by the name of Paola was Catherine’s friend and hostess. She was sick and bedridden for four months. She asked people to bring her something which had been in touch with Catherine. An object was found. She touched it in the evening and next morning got out of the bed without assistance. Soon she was free of her sickness.

                   She told the story to Raymond herself after his return to Rome. The power of God did not decrease as her body was put in the tomb.

8.       Giovanni di Neri had a little son who never learned to walk because he could not stand up. The boy was carried to her tomb and put over it. His feet and legs became strong and he could stand up and walk.

9.       Giovanni di Tozzo had a bad eye disease. He made a vow to the holy virgin Catherine of Siena. He was immediately cured. He went to her tomb and described the gift he had received.



To be continued

Saturday, April 16, 2016


207. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part twelve

We were discussing the story of the lost piece of Host (consecrated bread used in the ceremony of Holy Communion). Greatly worried Raymond told Catherine that a piece of the Host cannot be found anywhere. To his mild surprise she did not seem perturbed. A faint smile appeared on her face. “Did you look everywhere?” she asked. Raymond said “yes”. “Then why are you perturbed”, she said and smiled again. By this time Raymond became suspicious. He said, “Mother, I truly believe that it was you who took the Host.” “It was somebody else!”, she said. Raymond said, “Please tell me all you know of this matter.”This is what she said:

“…As my  confessor I will tell you. It was brought to me. It was offered to me by Jesus Christ! I took it. My companions did not want me to take it today. To avoid upsetting them I agreed. But then I turned to my most kind Savior. He appeared to me, and offered me the fragment by His most holy hands”.

On other occasions, some very trustworthy persons have told Raymond that they have seen the Host flying out of the priest’s hand as he was offering it to the holy virgin.

I have one more episode of change of Catherine’s face to narrate. Catherine used to nurse a woman in the hospital who was dying from cancer of breast. One day as Catherine came into the room, a pleasing light appeared in the room. She looked around for the source of the light, and saw a mantle of light around Catherine, and there was light around her face. Her face had an angelic quality. It did not look like the face of Lapa’s daughter, Catherine.

Miracles after death. The story of Semia, though long, is so fascinating that it deserves to be told with all its details. She was a virtuous woman. When Catherine arrived in Rome, Semia heard of her holiness and tried to spend as much time as possible in her company. She became her close companion. On the day of Catherine’s death (29th April,1380, Sunday, at hour of Terce)she was supposed to get up early, cook food for her demanding five sons, go for High Mass of Sunday, and then rush to the house where Catherine was staying. She overslept in the morning and saw an amazing dream. She saw a most beautiful little girl emerging from a silver tabernacle. Her face looked like that of Catherine. The girl was adorned in shining white dress, necklaces, and on her head were three crowns, one on top of another.  Semia was trying to guess who that girl was.  Her features resembled Catherine’s but Catherine was a much older person. The girl said to the two boys who were there, “See, she does not recognize me.”Four more graceful boys appeared. They put the crowned girl on a couch. The girl floated to Semia and said “I am Catherine of Siena.”The bridal bed rose in the air. A throne appeared, on which a bejeweled king was seated. He was holding a book in his right hand. The boys laid the bed in front of the throne. The girl got up, and bowed at the king’s feet and worshipped him. The king welcomed Catherine, by name. Further ceremonies followed. They awaited the queen. The queen held Catherine by hand and said, “Welcome to you, my most beloved daughter, Catherine.”Semia also saw many virgins, such as St Agnes, and St Margret.

When Semia woke it was already hour of Terce (9AM). She was late. She thought she was going to miss the Mass. That made her suspect that the vision she had seen was the work of the Devil, to make her miss the Mass. She said to herself, “if I miss the mass, it must have been the work of the Devil, if I find a Mass, it must have been a favor from mother Catherine”. As it happened the Mass was over by the time she reached the church. But then she went to another church and could attend the Mass. Before going to the church she washed and cut the vegetables and meat for the dinner. She locked the front door before she went to the church.

During the Mass, she asked Jesus, that if the vision was truly from Him, she be saved from grumbling of her sons, for food being late. Her sons were arriving at the door by the time she was reaching home. The door was locked. To her intense surprise food had been cooked and dinner was ready. She realized that the Savior had heard her prayer and answered it. She decided to go to Catherine, as soon as possible, and tell her about the miracles. She kept on saying, “Oh dear mother! You are truly a saint. You came in my house with locked door and cooked food for me.”


To be continued

Saturday, April 9, 2016


206. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part eleven


Saint Catherine’s face changed. In blog 197 I have narrated the episode of Raymond observing the change of Catherine’s face into that of a strange man who, fixing grave eyes upon Raymond inspired great fear in him. I have also narrated in blog 201 the dream of the soldier in which Catherine appeared. When the soldier woke up he told his wife his dream and said that he must meet Catherine and see if she is the person who came in his dream. The soldier verified after meeting her that it was she. In blog 203, readers might have read the incident of Andrea, the notorious young man, who saw Jesus and Catherine in the corner of his room. Father Tomasso rushed to Catherine to tell her the story but she already knew the details and could describe the inside of Andrea’s house.

One time Catherine had a great longing for the consecrated host. The desire was so great that Father Raymond relented. The host is consecrated in a special ceremony, and represents the body and blood of Jesus Christ (*). Father Raymond put on the vestments, said the holy prayer, and thus prepared the consecrated host. As he turned as usual to give the general absolution he saw that her face had become like an angel’s and was sending bright rays of light. He could no longer recognize her and said to himself, “That is not Catherine’s face”.

He saw the host rise to a height of three fingers on its own accord and rest on the paten he was holding in his hand. He was stunned with astonishment. He states:

“God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, is my witness that I am not romancing. This was not an illusion created by the Devil because Devil cannot interfere in such an adorable, awesome Sacrosanct”

Another similar incident is recorded by Raymond.

Raymond had come to know Catherine’s   frequent need for the Host, as if it was a requisite for her sustenance to live. One day the mass time was approaching, but she had aches and pains in her body. She needed a little more time for pains to go away. She sent a companion to Raymond to delay the conventual Mass, if possible, so that she be able to come and receive the Eucharist. Raymond gladly agreed and went to the choir instead. He said his office and waited.

At the same time, Catherine could not resist her longing and came to the church and sat in the pew. Raymond did not know that she had come and was sitting in the audience. The companion knew that after receiving the Eucharist, Catherine will go in ecstasy (**) for three to four hours, and thus it will be impossible to move her from whatever position she was in. Thus church could not be closed. And this will cause grumbling among the friars, who had to close the church. So, the companion advised her not to take the Eucharist. Catherine meekly agreed. But she started praying fervently. She was a whole length of the church away from Raymond

Lord heard her burning wish for the Host. A companion came to Raymond with the message from Catherine that Raymond can start the mass anytime he wished as she was not going to attend the Communion that day.

Raymond consecrated the bread. As he began to break the bread first into two parts and then into four, the sacred Host broke into three parts, two large and one small. The small one was as big as a kidney bean. He saw the little part jump out of the chalice, and as far as he could tell, it seemed to fall on to the corporal. He did not see where it went after that. He searched every bit of corporal with great care but did not find the lost piece. He was almost in tears. After a while he resumed his search and extended it to the altar but did not find it. He thought of asking the advice of the Prior of the monastery. But then a Prior of another monastery accosted him. He wanted to talk to Catherine urgently about some matter. He could not wait. Therefore Raymond went to Catherine’s house. He was surprised to learn that she was in the church. He did find her in the pews, in ecstasy. Due to the urgency of the lost Host she was gently roused. Raymond started telling her about the lost Host.


To be continued



(*) Host is a piece of consecrated bread. Holy Communion or Eucharist or Sacrament, are synonymous terms used for the rite of putting the Host in the mouth of the receiver. Jesus Christ gave the bread and wine to his disciples during the Last Supper and said 'This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me'. Non-Christian should understand that Christians consider it the body of Christ.

(**)During ecstasy a person is rigid like a statue and oblivious to his/her surroundings

Saturday, April 2, 2016

205. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part ten

I was describing the miracles of multiplication of edibles.

 She stayed in Rome in a house with her followers and a group of followers of God whom the Pope had summoned to Rome on Catherine’s suggestion. She had also extended her hospitality to them. There was not a cache of staples of food. All food had to be begged. Sometimes holy virgin also went for begging. At that time there were sixteen men and eight women living with her in that house. She had such trust in Lord that it did not worry her that from where will the foods for everybody come? Catherine had passed the order that each woman should for one week be responsible for household affairs so that the rest could pursue the things related to God or go for pilgrimage of sites in Rome. If there was a shortage of foodstuff this woman was supposed to tell Catherine one day in advance so that she should send somebody for begging or go herself.  There came a week when this responsibility fell on Giovanna’s shoulders. Giovanna was a sister of Penance who was from Siena and had accompanied St Catherine on this journey. As it happened, Giovanna forgot this instruction. One evening, there was not enough bread in the bin for four people. When Giovanna realized the enormity of the problem she went to holy virgin. She was very embarrassed and ashamed.  Catherine scolded her mildly. Then she told her to ask everybody to sit at the dinner table and serve whatever bread they had. Giovanna said there was not enough bread for 4-5 people. Nevertheless she followed the holy virgin’s instructions. Meanwhile Catherine went to a secluded place and started praying fervently.

All these hungry persons started eating with the one small loaf they had. To everybody’s amazement each person’s loaf never finished! Even when everybody had eaten their full, bread remained. At Catherine’s orders it was distributed to the poor. They burst out singing the praises of the Lord.

Another similar miracle was described to Raymond by Giovanna and Lisa (sister in law of Catherine, who was also a Dominican nun). This happened in the week of Lent, in the same year, and in the same house.

In 1375, in Pisa, Catherine became extremely weak. Raymond thought she was going to die. Catherine would not take anything internally such as milk, eggs, meat, sugar water, etc. Raymond recollected that a certain wine called vernaccia, if rubbed on wrists and temples is helpful in such a situation. A friend, Gherado’s, knew of a person who had a bottle of vernaccia. The person said he would willingly have given a barrel of vernaccia, but the barrel had been empty for three months. They went to the barrel and one could readily see that it had been empty for some time. To make sure, the owner pulled the spigot out.  As the bung was pulled out, a generous amount of vernaccia gushed out and gathered on the floor. The owner gathered everybody who lived in the house and asked them if anybody amongst them had put wine in the barrel.  All of them denied it and stated that nobody could put wine in the barrel without their knowledge. The news spread in the neighborhood like wild fire. Everybody acknowledged that it was a miracle of God.

A strange twist occurred due to Catherine’s prayer.

A few days after the incident Catherine recovered and went into the city to see somebody. As soon as the news of her arrival spread people gathered. Shopkeepers closed their shops to see this woman who could fill an empty flask with wine. When holy virgin learnt the cause of this hubbub, she became quite upset. She implored the Lord, “All your other servants can live amongst people but not I. ……..By your infinite mercy I beg you to have pity on me and dry up all the wine.”

A second miracle, even greater than the first happened, wine went as sour as vinegar!

There has been lot of discussion about these miracles amongst people living at that time and between scholars over the centuries. Some even thought that these were Satan’s doing; an optical illusion, that is why wine could not stay as wine. Raymond had the following interpretation: Both miracles were the work of Lord. Catherine was not involved in the first. She even did not know about the first miracle. Lord wanted to show by the filling of the barrel that He cared for the holy virgin, because with that miracle people will praise her and realize her worth with the Lord. Lord produced the wine to cure her. By the second miracle He showed how much He cared for her wishes and desires. He accepted her profound humility.

To be continued.