I John 1.5—2.2; Psalm 102; Matthew 11.25-30
During a relatively short life (1347-1380) Catherine, set on fire with divine love, devoted herself to contemplation of Our Lord’s passion, having vowed at the age of seven to give her whole life to God.
During the 14th Century the plague known as the “Black Death” wiped out a third of European population. The Hundred Years’ War (a series of conflicts in which England and France were the chief protagonists, from 1337-1453) convulsed Europe, whilst the papacy, under the manipulation of the French crown, decamped from Rome to the city of Avignon.
Catherine’s contemplative life led her to active involvement in the politics of Church and State for the last five years of her life. She persistently admonished Pope Gregory XI (whom she addressed as “Babbo,” that is, “Daddy”) to return to Rome; possibly it was her influence that persuaded him to do so in late 1386-7.
Catherine is one of the most remarkable women of history, and her voluminous writings give her a place in the history of literature. St John Paul II declared her a Patron of Europe in 1999, and we may rightly ask her intercession in the tumults and plagues of our own time.