ALEXANDRINA of Ricci was the daughter of a noble Florentine. At the age of thirteen she entered the Third Order of St. Dominic in the monastery of Prato, taking in religion the name of Catherine, after her patron and namesake of Siena.
Her special attraction was to the Passion of Christ, in which she was permitted miraculously to participate. In the Lent of 1541, being then twenty-one years of age, she had a vision of the crucifixion so heart-rending that she was confined to bed for three weeks, and was only restored, on Holy Saturday, by an apparition of St. Mary Magdalene and Jesus risen. During twelve years she passed every Friday in ecstasy. She received the sacred stigmata, the wound in the left side, and the crown of thorns.
All these favors gave her continual and intense suffering, and inspired her with a loving sympathy for the yet more bitter tortures of the Holy Souls. In their behalf she offered all her prayers and penances; and her charity toward them became so famous throughout Tuscany that after every death the friends of the deceased hastened to Catherine to secure her prayers. St. Catherine offered many prayers, fasts, and penances for a certain great man, and thus obtained his salvation. It was revealed to her that he was in purgatory; and such was her love of Jesus crucified that she offered to suffer all the pains about to be inflicted on that soul. Her prayer was granted. The soul entered heaven, and for forty days Catherine suffered indescribable agonies. Her body was covered with blisters, emitting heat so great that her cell seemed on fire. Her flesh appeared as if roasted, and her tongue like red-hot iron. Amid all she was calm and joyful, saying, “I long to suffer all imaginable pains, that souls may quickly see and praise their Redeemer.” She knew by revelation the arrival of a soul in purgatory, and the hour of its release. She held intercourse with the Saints in glory, and frequently conversed with St. Philip Neri at Rome without ever leaving her convent at Prato. She died, amid angels’ songs, in 1589.
Reflection.—If we truly love Jesus crucified, we must long, as did St. Catherine, to release the Holy Souls whom He has redeemed but has left to our charity to set free