For many eras, the Church has been truly blessed with saintly and most dedicated Popes – each with his own personality and God given spiritual gifts.

Each responding to his high calling from God with an immense generosity and spirit of sacrifice in an increasingly changing world.  Pope Francis no less than his predecessors has faced immense difficulties in our own historical situation both in the Church and in the world just as St. Catherine did in her time.

So she is surely a most powerful intercessor to invoke for the continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the guidance and strength which Pope Francis needs in his arduous ministry especially at this time.

Each successive Pope has had to cope with much criticism not only from the media, but also at times, sadly, from members of his own flock.  Yet having said this, I think it can safely be said, that there is  a vast number of people worldwide,  of all races and creeds who appreciate the leadership of our recent Popes, Pope Francis is most certainly included in that appreciation.  All have been prayerful Shepherds of their flock whose hearts have bled for suffering humanity – for poverty stricken peoples suffering war, violence, abuse, disease, including the present Coronavirus – Pope Francis in the footsteps of his predecessors labours arduously to bring God’s healing love to every anguished situation as did St. Catherine in her own life time.

I would like to quote part of a letter she wrote to Pope Gregory XI in 1377:

‘Most Holy Father’ she writes, ‘if virtue is so very necessary to all peoples  so that each may save his soul, how much more does one in your position stand in need  of constancy, fortitude and patience now – as Christ’s Vicar, you must toil and struggle for the honour of God, the salvation of souls and the reform of holy Church, all these mean pain and suffering for you’. ‘Well you know, Holy Father, that when you took Holy Church as your bride, you took on the task of toiling and striving on her account and of facing up to many cross-winds, much pain and suffering. Go out to meet these winds with fortitude, patience and long suffering.  Let your heart rejoice for the many adverse situations that have and will come about, God’s work was never done in any other way.

‘I  am confident in our Lord Jesus Christ, that in this and in other things he will be so much at work in you.

Be comforted and trust in the prayers of God’s ‘good servants’ who are praying for you.  Abide in the sweet and holy love of God.  Sweet Jesus, Jesus love’.

How applicable are these words of St. Catherine to this present time of the Coronavirus – let us continue to be among those ‘good servants’ of whom St. Catherine speaks, and continue to support Pope Francis untiringly with our lives of prayer and sacrifice.

St. Catherine pray for the Church, for Pope Francis and for his world-wide flock.  Amen.