Saint Catharine de Ricci

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Saint Catharine de Ricci, Virgin.

A.D. 1589.

THE RICCI are an ancient family, which still subsists in a flourishing condition in Tuscany. Peter de Ricci, the father of our saint, was married to Catharine Bonza, a lady of suitable birth. The saint was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina: but she took the name of Catharine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, she was formed to virtue by a very pious godmother, and whenever she was missing she was always to be found on her knees in some secret part of the house. When she was between six and seven years old, her father placed her in the convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. This place was to her a paradise; at a distance from the noise and tumult of the world, she served God without impediment or distraction. After some years her father took her home. She continued her usual exercises in the world as much as she was able; but the interruptions and dissipation, inseparable from her station, gave her so much uneasiness, that with the consent of her father, which she obtained, though with great difficulty, in the year 1535, the fourteenth of her age, she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany, to which her uncle, F. Timothy de Ricci, was director. Continue reading

St. Katharine Drexel

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Mother Katharine Drexel

This amazing woman was an heiress to a large bequest who became a religious sister and a brilliant educator.

Katherine was born in Philadelphia on November 26, 1858, the second child of a prominent and wealthy banker, Francis Anthony Drexel and his wife, Hannah Langstroth. He mother passed away just five weeks after Katharine was born. Her father remarried to Emma Bouvier in 1860 and together they had another daughter in 1863, Louisa Drexel.

The girls received a wonderful education from private tutors and traveled throughout the United States and Europe. The Drexels were financially and spiritually well endowed. They were devout in the practice of their faith, setting an excellent example of true Christian living for their three daughters. They not only prayed but practiced what the Church calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Katharine grew up seeing her father pray for 30 minutes each evening. And every week, her stepmother opened their doors to house and care for the poor. The couple distributed food, clothing and provided rent assistance to those in need. The Drexels would seek out and visit women who were too afraid or too proud to approach the home in order to care for their needs in Christian charity. Continue reading

The Seven Holy Servite Founders

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The Seven Holy Servite Founders
(Mid 13th century)

Can you imagine seven prominent men of any large modern city banding together, leaving their homes and profession, and going into solitude for a life directly given to God? That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century. At this time, the city was torn with political strife as well as by the heresy of the Cathari; morals were low and religion neglected.

On the feast of the Assumption in 1233, seven of the members of a Florentine Confraternity devoted to the Holy Mother of God were gathered in prayer under the presidency of Alessio Falconieri. The Blessed Virgin appeared to the young men and exhorted them to devote themselves to Her service, in retirement from the world. It was in 1240 that they decided to withdraw together from the city to a solitary place for prayer and the service of God. The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader. The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell’Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta. Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by increasing numbers of visitors. They next retired to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario near Florence, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to them again. There the nucleus of a new Order was formed, called Servants of Mary, or Servites, in recognition of their special manner of venerating the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

In 1244, under the direction of Saint Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the rule of Saint Augustine. The new Order took a form resembling more the mendicant friars than the older monastic Orders. One of the most remarkable features of the new foundation was its wonderful growth. Even in the fourteenth century, the Order had more than one hundred convents in several nations of Europe, as well as in India and on the Island of Crete. The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is one of their regular devotions, as is also the Via Matris, or Way of the Cross of Mary.

Saint of the Day: The 173 Saints of the new Missal. Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Vol. I (Saint Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 1974); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).