24 March 2012

Saint Catherine of Sweden

24 MARCH 2012. Today is the commemoration of Saint Catherine of Sweden (or Catherine of Vadstena).

Catherine was born near the beginning of the fourteenth century to parents Ulfo and the better known Saint Bridget of Sweden. At the age of seven, Catherine was sent to the Abbey at Risburgh by her parents and placed under the care of the abbess to receive an education and to build a foundation for her spiritual life.

At the age of 13, Catherine was taken from the abbey and given in marriage to Eggert van Kyren, a German nobleman. Upon meeting Eggert, Catherine persuaded him to make a mutual vow of perpetual chastity with her. Catherine and Eggert dedicated themselves to the service of God and encouraged each other in works of mortification, prayer, and charity.

Around the year A.D. 1349, after the death of her father, Catherine accompanied her mother on a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the relics of the Roman Martyrs. Soon after arriving in Rome, Saint Catherine received word of the death of her husband. Afterwards she wrote a devotional work entitled, Consolation of the Soul, a copy of which from A.D. 1407 is still in existence today.

Saint Catherine and her mother spent several years living in Rome. In A.D. 1373 Saint Bridget died and Catherine returned to Sweden with her mother's body. Two years later, Catherine returned to Rome to promote the cause for her mother's canonization and to gain approval for a rule she had written for a group of religious women.

After gaining approval for her rule, Catherine returned to Sweden and became abbess of Vadzstena. Catherine served as abbess of Vadzstena until her death in A.D. 1381. During the final 25 years of her life, Catherine was known for her austere lifestyle and her practice of making daily use of the Sacrament of Confession.

St. Catherine was canonized in A.D. 1484 by Pope Pius II. She is the patron saint for protection against abortion and miscarriage.

Saint Catherine of Sweden pray for us!

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