Prayer May 24th, 1992 Brother John Raymond Prayer of St. Catherine of Siena to the Precious Blood of Jesus (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church When Catherine was six years old she had a vision of Jesus. He was wearing papal robes and the Tiara, Crown of the Pope. A sign surely of the Saint's future mission of bringing the Pope back from Avignon (France) to Rome. As a little girl St. Catherine was very holy. She would say a Hail Mary at each step of the stairs and her mother noticed that her feet never touched the steps! When her father saw a dove over her head while at prayer Catherine was then left free to her devotions and freed from talk of marriage. She made herself a hermitage in their cold, damp cellar and spent three years there as a recluse leaving only for Church and only talking in Confession. Before entering into this retirement St. Catherine entered the Third Order of St. Dominic and attended the Dominican Church in her native city of Siena, Italy. During this novitiate the Saint suffered greatly yet also received many mystical graces and visions. Once Jesus appeared to her and offered her the choice between two crowns, one of gold, one of thorns. She chose the one of thorns - like His own. Her heart was changed by Jesus so that her will was totally united to God's will. After this took place St. Catherine began her mission. Our Lord told her to leave her hermitage and return to her family. Also she began to care for the sick in Siena. She visited the prisons. She even comforted a man who was to be executed to such an extent that he was happy to die and go to Heaven. She stayed beside him as he was executed. St. Catherine helped many poor people and her father said she could give away everything in the house! More than once Our Lord came to St. Catherine disguised as a poor man to ask for her help. She later learned Whom she had been helping. In 1370 St. Catherine was called to a public apostolate. She traveled from city to city bringing about peace among the war-torn city-states. She converted so many that priests had to travel with her to hear confessions. She had many followers. They stayed with her and called her `madre' or `mother' and they were her family. In time even her widowed mother joined this band of Lovers of God. In her travels the Saint went to Pisa, Italy. It was there that the Saint received the Sacred Stigmata: the Wounds of Our Lord. She was praying before the Crucifix when bright red rays from the five Sacred Wounds streamed toward her. "Please Lord make it invisible" she prayed and the rays became white before reaching her. While having the pain of the wounds she could keep it secret from the public. Another grace St. Catherine received was to live without any food except the Bread of Life: Holy Communion. St. Catherine was told by Jesus that she was to urge the Pope to return to Rome. For seventy years the Pope had lived in France at Avignon. The Saint went to Pope Gregory XI and "Sweet Christ on Earth" as she referred to him, obeyed God's command through St. Catherine. Her work for the Church did not end with this. She moved to Rome and continued her prayers and work for the Church. Once in St. Peter's it seemed as if the Church, represented in a mosaic as the Barque or Boat of Peter, was placed on her shoulders! She offered herself as a victim for the Church. At the age of 33 St. Catherine died in Rome surrounded by her followers. Having always been devoted to the Precious Blood her last words were, "Blood, Blood, Blood." St. Catherine left the Church her great work, "The Dialogue." She dictated this book in three days, in ecstasy, to three secretaries. It is a masterpiece of the spiritual life and earned her the title "Doctor of the Church." This was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1970 and she shares this title with only one other woman, St. Teresa of Avila. Her prayer to the Precious Blood of Jesus: Precious Blood, Ocean of Divine Mercy: Flow upon us! Precious Blood, Most pure Offering: Procure us every Grace! Precious Blood, Hope and Refuge of sinners: Atone for us! Precious Blood, Delight of holy souls: Draw us! Amen.