Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
In iconography, St. Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican, can often be found with a ship on her shoulder, the saint holding it steady as she looks ahead. The ship is the Barque of St. Peter–the Catholic Church–and the papal insignia is often found on the ship’s flag. Why the boat? St. Catherine is intimately connected with the papacy. During her lifetime, she worked to achieve peace among the warring Italian states, implored Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return the papacy to Rome, and encouraged clerical reform. In 1378, she was summoned to Rome by Pope Urban VI, where she worked for the reformation of the Church, served the destitute, and wrote eloquent letters on the pope’s behalf. Because of all the work she did to support the papacy, she had a vision that the Barque of Peter had been placed upon her shoulders, and it was crushing her to death. She was also a recipient of the stigmata and is one of the four female Church Doctors.
In this time of papal interregnum, St. Catherine is a perfect patron saint. Her novena would be a great practice to adopt as we await the beginning of the conclave, and the election of our next Holy Father. No matter how much her work on behalf of Christ and His church drained her physical energies, she never stopped proclaiming the Truth and showing Christ’s abundant love to all she met.
Novena Prayer to St. Catherine of Siena
O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, St. Catherine, because of your extraordinary virtue and immense good which you accomplished for the Church and society, you are acclaimed and blessed by all people. Turn your benign countenance to the Church who, confident of your powerful patronage, calls upon you with all the ardor of affection and begs you to obtain, by your prayer, the favors of peace in the Church, blessings upon our past Pope, and the grace of a saintly Supreme Pontiff.
You, who were a victim of Charity, who in order to benefit your neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and hope of all, you cannot help but hear the prayers of those who fly unto your heart–that heart which you received from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.
Yes, O seraphic virgin, demonstrate once again proof of your power and your flaming charity, so that your name will be ever more blessed and exalted: grant that we, having experiences your most effacious intercession here on Earth, may come one day to thank you in heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with you.
O God, Eternal Shepherd, who govern Your flock with unfailing care, grant in Your boundless fatherly Love a pastor for Your Church who will please You by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.