"Saint Catherine de Ricci" by Bob and Penny Lord Mini Book 20 Pages
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Catherine had a great devotion for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.
She constantly prayed for the release of the Suffering Souls in Purgatory. She performed acts of charity; she offered up her Masses and Communions on their behalf. She was even willing to suffer in their place, and there are many accounts where the Lord allowed her to do so. The Poor Souls were allowed to enter the Kingdom before they had suffered for the period assigned them, as Catherine suffered unbelievable pain on their behalf.
One incident of her involvement with the Poor Souls in Purgatory, well known in the life of St. Catherine, concerned the Granduke Francesco de' Medici. As we mentioned before, Catherine was advisor and friend of the Medicis and other nobility; one could almost call her Saint of the Nobility. Francesco's wife, the Granduchess (also Princess of Austria) was the spiritual daughter of Catherine. She was holy and virtuous, whereas her husband was cruel and totally insensitive to his wife's suffering. He even had a mistress living in the same house with him and his wife! This hurt the Granduchess, terribly. His whole court knew! He didn't care. But although he wounded her deeply, the Granduchess never stopped praying for his soul. She asked Catherine to pray for his conversion, that he might not be condemned to Hell. She also asked her to plead with God that when her husband died, he not suffer horribly in Purgatory. The Granduchess died before her husband, and he married the mistress. Although Catherine did not approve of her behavior, she nevertheless paid the new Granduchess the respect due her new station in life.
Now as far as the Granduke was concerned, the Church, the Lord, his immortal soul were all things which were way back in the recesses of his heart and mind. Catherine prayed for his conversion for twenty years. She pleaded with him to convert. He paid no attention to her. The Granduke died. Because of all her prayers, on his death bed, he asked for a priest, confessed his sins and received absolution before he died. He was spared the fires and everlasting pains of Hell; but was sent to the pits of Purgatory to suffer the temporal punishment due him for his sins. There, he would undergo the cleansing of his soul to such a state, he would be acceptable to enter into the presence of God.
St. Catherine kept her promise to the Granduchess and pleaded with the Lord, to allow her to take over the temporal punishment, due the Granduke. The Lord accepted, and the Granduke was led through the gates of Heaven.
We have to believe that Catherine had a great love for the poor suffering souls in Purgatory, to be willing to take on the type of horrendous reparation due for their acts on earth. She was given to understand that she would have to bear forty days of unbearable, excruciating, virtually impossible to describe - pain. In exchange, the Granduke would enter Heaven without suffering the agony that had been prepared for him. She said Yes!
Life of Saint Catherine de Ricci - Mystical Marriage - Stigmatist - Visionary
Five years later, on Easter Sunday, she prayed to the Lord to give her a new heart, because she said "With this weak heart of mine, I cannot love you properly." Then, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, she went into ecstasy, and Our Lord appeared to Catherine and gave her a new heart, made of flesh. She said that her heart felt as if it was on fire. She had asked to love Him with a heart that could love Him as He deserved. Whose heart could better love Him than that of Mother Mary! Who knew how to truly love her Son, if not His Mother? Our Lord, when she asked for a new heart that could properly love Him, gave her the heart of His Mother Mary. From that time on, she said her heart was no longer hers, but that of Jesus, Mother.
The following year, the 15th of April, 1542, Saint Catherine de Ricci was mystically married to Jesus. [Now, many Saints we have written about have been given that special blessing by the Lord: St. Catherine of Siena, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Veronica Giuliani to mention just a few. But the outward sign of St. Catherine de' Ricci's marriage was the most unusual we have ever heard.] Our Lord appeared to the young girl in a brilliance, reminiscent of the Transfiguration. He took her hand in His and kissed it; then He took a gleaming ring off His own finger and placed it on the ring finger on her left hand, saying,
"My daughter, receive this ring as pledge and proof that thou dost now, and ever shalt, belong to Me."
Now, this has happened before to many Saints. The difference with this Mystical Marriage was that there were witnesses to this miracle! The ring actually manifested itself in a physical ring of gold and diamonds. That's how Saint Catherine de Ricci saw it all her life. It was seen and testified to by three of the nuns in the community, all of whom were mature nuns. Only they saw something different from Catherine. They saw a red mark around the finger, as if the ring had made a mark on her finger. There was a larger red mark, in the form of a stone, but not a stone, appearing where a stone would be on an actual ring.
One description given was that it looked like a ring had been buried under the skin. This miraculous manifestation was seen by all on Ascension Thursday and the Feast of Corpus Christi, lasting for the entire day, each time.
The only exception to this was when the governor of Prato asked to see it. On the Feast of Corpus Christi, Saint Catherine der Ricci was brought into the church so that he would be able to view the ring. As soon as she approached him, the ring disappeared, and did not reappear until he left.
The ring became an important area of contention not only in her lifetime, but later, in the process of her Beatification and Canonization. [However, the Lord triumphed; her sincerity and spirituality were authenticated and she was officially added to the Communion of Saints.] Catherine's superior tried to find a way to remove the cause of the problem, the red mark on her finger. Catherine was open to any methods the superior chose to remove the mark.
But all the time, Saint Catherine de Ricci insisted, she couldn't see any mark on her finger; what she could see was a magnificent ring of gold adorned with brilliant diamonds that Our Lord Jesus had given her.
Read more on St. Catherine