In the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday, with thousands of pilgrim faithful on hand during
the Octave of Christmas, Pope Beneidct XVI held his weekly General Audience, during
which he reflected on the life and legacy of St. Catherine of Bologna, a Poor Clare
abbess of the fifteenth century, whom the Holy Father described as a woman of great
wisdom and culture.
Born of noble stock, Catherine spent her childhood at the
court of Ferrara. At fourteen she joined a group of other young women devoted to
the common life and eventually became a Poor Clare. In her spiritual journey, Catherine
endured her own dark night of the soul, experiencing doubts and temptation, but also
great consolations. In her treatise The Seven Spiritual Weapons, she writes of the
many graces she received and lists the most effective means of resisting the temptations
of the devil.
Pope Benedict went on to discuss how Catherine tells of the visions
which led her to understand both the severity of the Last Judgment and, at the same
time, God’s infinite mercy.
Catherine’s entire life was a model of humility
and obedience; indeed, she saw all disobedience as a sign of that spiritual pride
which destroys all virtue.
The Holy Father concluded his reflection by praying
that the example and prayers of Saint Catherine of Bologna inspire in us humble obedience
to God’s will in our daily efforts to remain faithful to his plan for our lives.
the reflection, which continued Pope Benedict’s series of catecheses on great women
in Church history, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English,
during which he had a special word of welcome for the students of the American College
I greet the seminarians of the American College of Louvain and
I offer prayerful good wishes for your studies. May this pilgrimage to Rome be a
source of spiritual enrichment as you prepare for priestly ministry in the United
States. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking
visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Christ
our newborn Saviour.
Founded by the bishops of the United States in 1857 as
a seminary to train European men called to serve the Church as missionary priests
in North America, the American College at Louvain has been for more than a century
and a half in the service of the Church in the New World, in recent years forming
men from the US for the missionary priesthood and preparing priests with missionary
spirit in the sacred sciences.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the
American College at Louvain will close its doors in June of 2011.