Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our catechesis today deals with Saint Catherine of Bologna, a Poor Clare abbess of the fifteenth century and a woman of great wisdom and culture. Born of noble stock, Catherine spent her childhood at the court of Ferrara. At fourteen she joined a group of other young women devoted to the common life and eventually became a Poor Clare. In her spiritual journey, Catherine endured her own dark night of the soul, experiencing doubts and temptation, but also great consolations. In her treatise The Seven Spiritual Weapons, she writes of the many graces she received and lists the most effective means of resisting the temptations of the devil. She also relates the visions which led her to understand both the severity of the Last Judgment and, at the same time, God’s infinite mercy. Catherine’s entire life was a model of humility and obedience; indeed, she saw all disobedience as a sign of that spiritual pride which destroys all virtue. May the example and prayers of Saint Catherine of Bologna inspire in us humble obedience to God’s will in our daily efforts to remain faithful to his plan for our lives.
I greet the seminarians of the American College of Louvain and I offer prayerful good wishes for your studies. May this pilgrimage to Rome be a source of spiritual enrichment as you prepare for priestly ministry in the United States. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Christ our newborn Saviour.