27 April 2010

Blessed Osanna of Kotor

27 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed Osanna of Kotor, a holy fifteenth century woman from an Orthodox heritage who converted to Catholicism and became a lay dominican.

Blessed Osanna was born Jovana Kosic in Zeta on 25 November 1493. The daughter and granddaughter of Orthodox priests, and the niece of the Orthodox bishop of Zeta, the child Jovana was baptized and raised in the Serb Orthodox faith.  As a young girl, the child Jovana worked as a shepherdess and was known to spend hours in prayer. Tradition tells that as a child, she had a vision of a child sleeping in the grass while tending her flocks, but when she went to retrieve the child, it disappeared. She continued to have similar apparitions through her childhood.

Feeling a longing to go to the coast (the Bay of Kotor), at the age of 14 Jovana's parents allowed her to take a position there as a servant with the wealthy Catholic Bucca family. The Bucca family allowed the child time off for Church visits as she wished and she soon converted to Catholicism, taking the name Catherine.

In her late teens, Catherine felt the call to live the eremetic life of an anchoress. Though she was considered very young for such a calling, her spiritual director allowed her to reside in a hermitage near Saint Bartholomew's Church in Cattaro. From her hermitage, now Catherine could hear mass and offer prayers for those would come for her spiritual advice.

After an earthquake destroyed her hermitage at Saint Bartholomew's, Catherine moved to a new hermitage near Saint Paul's church and became a Dominican tertiary, taking the name Osanna in memory of Blessed Osanna of Mantua. There, for the last 52 years of her life, Blessed Osanna would follow the Dominican rule in her cell.

So great was Blessed Osanna's reputation for holiness that a group of Dominican nuns took up residence near her hermitage at Saint Paul's and considered her to be their foundress, though Blessed Osanna never left her confines.

Tradition tells that Blessed Osanna had many visions in her cell, including those of the Blessed Mother, Christ as a baby, several saints, and even the Devil, who tried to persuade her to relax her penances.

Over the course of her life, the people of Kotor came to call Blessed Osanna the "trumpet of the Holy Spirit" and the "teacher of mysticism." People from all walks of life visited Blessed Osanna at the window of her hermitage, seeking her advice. She interceded for the many who expressed their need for her prayers, in particular peace in the town and for peace among feuding families.

Blessed Osanna died on 27 April 1565. Her incorrupt body was kept in Saint Paul's church until A.D. 1807. In A.D. 1927 Pope Pius XI confirmed Blessed Osanna's cultus, and she was formally beatified in A.D. 1934.

Today, Blessed Osanna is invoked by many for Church unity.

Blessed Osanna of Kotor, pray for us!

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