a born teacher, people
said of the eldest daughter of the wealthy, cultured, Italian patrician,
John of Vigri.
Catherine of Vigri
with all the gifts which enable a person to transmit great ideals to
the eyes of the world, Catherine seemed to “have it all.”
She was lovely, intelligent, witty and modest.
Several young noblemen sought her hand in marriage.
Yet, for all the pleasure which living at court afforded, it could
not supply the one thing she desired – a life totally consecrated to
she was fourteen, Catherine joined a group of young women seeking to live
a dedicated community life.
solid virtue and deep prayerfulness were known to all.
But no one knew of the searing interior trials that Catherine was
undergoing, trials which anchored her even more firmly in faith and in
total abandonment to God.
1430, Catherine and some of her companions formally established their
community under the Rule of St. Clare.
Inside the monastery, Catherine’s teaching talents began to
shine, first through good example and then when she was appointed mistress
She was able
to use everything – her aptitude for music and painting, her literary
talents and knowledge of Latin, her deep penetration of the patristic
writers – to teach her Sisters how to live for God alone.
Benedict XVI, the monastery became
an increasingly prayerful place of self-giving, of silence, of spiritual
endeavor and of joy.
1456, Catherine set out for
What is the lesson this accomplished Clarian teacher would have us learn? Pope Benedict XVI gives this reply: St. Catherine suffered temptation; she felt forsaken by God. Yet she was always holding the Lord’s hand. So it is that she also tells us: take heart, do not let go of the Lord’s hand.