FEBRUARY 13. Catherine de ricci
Patron saint of the sick, sick people, tobacco, pipe makers
Lived 1522 to 1590
As a child, Catherine spoke to her guardian angel, who taught her the prayers of the rosary. Whenever she was missing, she was found on her knees in some secret part of the house.
As a novitiate, Catherine's peers questioned her sanity and competence. She would experience ecstasies during her daily routine, which caused her to "outwardly seem asleep or dully stupid whenever the visions were upon her." Some people suspected she was insane. Catherine, conversely, had no idea that others were not, like herself, rapt in ecstasy.
Catherine often chose pain, wearing an iron chain around her neck and engaging in extreme fasting and other forms of penance. Sometimes pain chose Catherine too. As one chronicler says, "fresh trials moved in upon her in the form of a complication of diseases that remedies seemed only to aggravate."
She was so holy that skeptics and sinners were converted at the sight of her.
CATHY, IT'S ME: CATHY, COME HOME
Catherine was said to have a "blessed ability to bilocate." According to wikipedia: "bilocation [. . .] is an alleged psychic or miraculous ability wherein an individual or object is located (or appears to be located) in two distinct places at the same time."
(Because I'm a huge dork, I keep singing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights like it is about two parts of one self separated by bilocation. Up next, Spice Girls' 2 Become 1.)
Catherine's meditation on Christ's passion was so deep that, at age 20, she began a 12-year cycle of weekly ecstacies that lasted from noon on Thursday until noon on Friday. As one chronicler put it, she was "rapt every week." The wounds would appear on her person in order, from scourging to crowning with thorns. This allowed onlookers to follow the passion step by step in real time. Catherine's shoulder was indented from hauling the cross.
ESPOUSAL TO CHRIST
Deep in prayer, like Catherine of Siena, a ring representing her marriage to Christ appeared on her finger. Unlike Catherine of Siena, Catherine de Ricci's ring was made of coral, not foreskin. By another account, the the ring appeared to her as gold set with a diamond, but others saw a red lozenge and a circlet instead.
VACATIONS TO THE AFTERLIFE
Catherine had the gift of knowing the state of the deceased. She made various trips, in spirit, to the afterlife. Many pilgrims came to her for news of their dead relatives. She responded to these inquiries in an effort to promote suffrage.
Once she opted to endure 40 days of purgatory for the repose of the soul of one of the church's benefactors. For this period of time, her flesh was all covered in blisters, her skin scorched others' skin to the touch, and liquid sizzled in her mouth whenever she drank it.