Tomorrow the 20th of April we begin the novena of prayer in preparation for the feast of St Catherine of Siena. This is a very special feast for our community as our monastery is under the patronage of St Catherine.

Perhaps our readers would like to join us in this novena in praying for Pope Benedict XVI and the whole the Church, so dear to the heart of Catherine. We would also be grateful if you would pray for our community that we may be faithful to our vocation in the Church and for vocations to our community.

Each day, as a community we pray the following:

O glorious St Catherine, champion of the Church of Christ and of his vicar on earth, doctor rich in wisdom, peace-maker among peoples, friend and guide of souls, obtain for us the wisdom that will make us saints and for the wrold a lasting peace. Amen.

During the novena each evening before Vespers, a sister reads a short passage from Catherine writings – we will share these reflections with you on this blog for your own prayerful reflection

Let us pray:
Almighty God,
You made St Catherine of Siena
a contemplative lover of the Lord’s sufferings
and an ardent servant of your Church.
grant through her prayer
that your people may be united to Christ in his mystery
and rejoice for ever in the revelation of his glory.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Catherine was born in Siena, Italy in 1347 and died in Rome in 1380. She lived at a time not too unlike our own when the Church and society were in turmoil- at one point there were even 3 Popes – each claiming to be the true successor of St Peter! She was greatly influenced by the Dominican friars of her native Siena and became a Lay Dominican. She fully imbibed the spirit of Dominic – above all his great love of God and zeal for the salvation of souls. A constant refrain in Catherine’s writings – like a golden thread holding all together – is the invitation “to stand at the table of the Cross seeking only the glory and praise of God and the salvation of souls”

In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her together with St Teresa of Avila as the first women doctors of the Church.