CHAPTER XVIII

How she did not desire love for God or in God, nor to have any medium between herself and God.--She could not see how love could be increased in her.--Of the peace of the soul transformed in God.


     This holy Soul said that she never spoke of these great things to others without its appearing to her afterwards that she had told a lie--so weak were her words in comparison with that which she experienced through her pure and upright love. She said, therefore: "I do not wish a love which may be described as for God, or in God. I cannot see those words, for and in, without their suggesting to me that something may intervene between God and me; and that is what pure and simple love, by reason of its purity and simplicity, is unable to endure. This purity and simplicity is as great as God is, for it is his own." At another time she said that she never felt like speaking of this simplicity and purity of love, as if she had a sensible experience of it, because it is entirely ineffable and above the capacity of man; yet she had it in such abundance that, whatever might be alleged or even proved to the contrary, she could not understand how it could increase within her. This must be understood to mean that, being always replenished with love, she could neither see nor desire more than that which at any moment held her satisfied; this, however, did not prevent love from continually purifying and cleansing this precious and elect vessel, and from ever increasing and more abundantly filling her.


     And to prove this, she said: "Every day I felt myself lifted above those trifles which this pure love, ever harassing itself with those penetrating eyes that behold even those smallest imperfections which to other love appear perfection, was striving to cast out. This work is done by God, and man himself is not aware of it, nor does he see these imperfections; on the contrary, because such a sight would be insupportable to him, God shows him the perfected work as if it were without a flaw. Yet God does not cease continually to purify him, although he does it in a way not comprehensible to any intellect. It is written that even the heavens are not pure in the sight of God, by which it must be understood that such purity is not known, except by the help of a supernatural light which, without any assistance from man, works in him after its own pleasure, and ever cleanses him more fully until he is entirely pure. And this work God does secretly, because, when man yields himself wholly into the hands of God (which without divine grace he is unable even to wish to do), he can then see the enormity of even one trifling imperfection in the sight of God; and afterward, if he could see all those defects in himself which God is daily removing from him, he would be overpowered by his despair. Hence it is that these obstacles are gradually removed without man's cognizance, and God continually operates in us by his sweet goodness so long as we remain in this present life."


     When the good God calls us in this world, he finds us full of vices and sins, and his first work is to give us the instinct to practice virtue; then he incites us to desire perfection, and afterwards, by infused grace, he conducts us to the true annihilation, and finally to the true transformation. This is the extraordinary road along which God conducts the soul. But when the soul is thus annihilated and transformed, it no longer works, or speaks, or wills, or feels, or understands, nor has it in itself any knowledge, either of that which is internal or external, which could possibly affect it; and, in all these things God is its director and guide without the help of any creature.


     In this state, the soul is in such peace and tranquility that it seems to her that both soul and body are immersed in a sea of the profoundest peace, from which she would not issue for anything that could happen in this life. She remains immovable, imperturbable, and neither her humanity nor her spirit feels anything except the sweetest peace, of which she is so full, that if her flesh, her bones, her nerves were pressed, nothing would issue from them but peace. And all day long she sings softly to herself for joy, saying: "Shall I show thee what God is? No one finds peace apart from him."


     And as this process goes on, she is every day more profoundly plunged, immersed, and transformed in this peace, so that her humanity is every day more alienated from the world and from all things earthly and natural; and this in such wise that even the body no longer lives upon corporal food, and yet neither wastes away nor dies; on the contrary, this creature remains in health without using the means which are the cause of health, because it is no longer supported by nature but by an incomprehensible satiety which overflows into the body. And this is doubtless the reason why such a creature becomes so marvelous in her aspect, and especially in her purified eyes, which are like two ardent stars, enkindled in heaven, so that she appears truly like an angel upon earth.


     This love is of so generous and excellent a spirit that it disdains to lose its time in anything, however beautiful and precious, except its own purity and splendor, from which issue translucent rays of ardent and inflamed virtue. Thus is she ever occupied, and all things else she esteems as no longer appertaining to her.


     This work is constantly progressing, and every day the soul understands more clearly that the end for which man was created was truly for love, and to delight himself in this pure and holy love. And therefore when man has, by the assistance of divine grace, arrived at this desired port of pure love, he can afterwards do nothing (even if he wished or tried to force himself to do otherwise) but love and enjoy himself: this grace God gives to man in a manner so admirable and above every human desire or comprehension that without doubt, being still in this present life, he feels himself to have been made a partaker of the beatific glory.
 

CHAPTER XIX

Of her earnest answer to a Friar Preacher who told her how much better he was prepared than herself for the divine love.--Nothing can hinder divine love, neither can it be deceived.--Also of its various conditions.


     On one occasion a friar preacher, either to try her, or under some wrong impression, as often happens, maintained that he was better prepared for the divine love than herself, alleging as a reason, that on entering religion, he had renounced everything external and internal, and therefore he was more free and better prepared to love God than herself; and for many other reasons such as men can adduce, who are more learned than holy and devout, but especially because she was wedded to the world, and himself to religion.


     When the friar had said many things of this kind, an ardent flame of pure love seized the blessed Catherine, with which her heart was so inflamed, that she rose to her feet and fervently exclaimed: "If I believed that your habit would add one spark to my love, I would not hesitate to tear it from you, if I could obtain it in no other way. Whatever you merit more than I, through the renunciation you have made for God's sake, and through your religious life, which continually enables you to merit, I do not seek to obtain; these are yours; but that I cannot love God as much as yourself, you can never make me believe."


     She uttered these words with so much fervor and effect, that her hair burst from the band that confined it, and fell disheveled over her shoulders, so that, in her burning zeal, she seemed almost beside herself; and yet so graceful and decorous was her bearing, that all persons present were amazed, edified, and pleased; and she added: `Love cannot be checked, and if checked it is not pure and simple love."


     When she reached the house, she said, after the manner in which she was accustomed to speak familiarly with her Lord: "O Love, who shall prevent me from loving thee? not only in the world as I am" (meaning the married state), "but even if I should find myself in a camp of soldiers, I could not be prevented from loving thee. If the world, or if the husband could impede love, what would such love be but a thing of feeble virtue and mean capacity? As for me I know by what I have experienced that divine love can be conquered or impeded by nothing. It conquers all things."


     Catherine did not intend to say that the path to perfect love was as easy to seculars as to religious: but what she said applied only to perfect and pure love; because such a love breaks through all restraints and conquers all difficulties.


     On being told that she might be deceived by the devil, she replied: "I cannot believe that a love which has nothing of self in it can ever be deceived." And God communicated to her interiorly, that she was in the right, saying to her, that if it were possible for one to love even the devil with pure love, free from everything pertaining to self, malignant and odious as he is, he could not harm this soul, for pure love has such virtue that it would deprive him of his malignity. If, then, pure love has such power over one so wicked, who can doubt of a soul who possesses it? For if pure and simple love in any creature could be deceived, God cannot be.


     Catherine being on one occasion greatly troubled and oppressed by her humanity, because she had consented, in order to sustain a feeble and infirm life, to use things lawful and permitted, God thus instructed her concerning these things: "I never wish you to turn your eyes towards anything but love, and there rest, unmoved by any novelty that may present itself, within and without, but be like one dead to all things; because he who trusts in me must never doubt himself. For all the reasoning, cogitations, alternations, and doubts, which man has concerning the spirit, proceed from that very evil root of self, for pure love transcends all human thoughts, and will not live in the soul, still less in the body of man according to their nature, but will do all things above the capacity of that nature, and all that it thinks and speaks is always above nature."
 

CHAPTER XX

That God does not wish man to serve him through self-interest or through fear, but only through faith and love, and therefore he sweetly attracts his will.--The saint did not desire grace or mercy, but only justice.--That pure love fears nothing but sin.


     This holy Soul being (as may be inferred from what has been already said) arrived at that state of perfection where she began to taste the fruition of eternal happiness, and regarding those who are still deceived by the passions of the present time, and know not how to hasten from that which is so wholly evil, was moved by compassion, and she said:


     "O man, created in such great dignity, why dost thou lose thyself in things so vile? If thou shouldst consider well, thou wouldst easily see that all worldly things which thou desirest are as nothing when compared to those spiritual goods which God gives thee even in this life, which is so full of ignorance. Pray that thou mayst come hereafter to that celestial country in which are things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for them that love him!"


     If man clearly saw that by well-doing he could gain eternal life, and could imagine how great the happiness of heaven will be, he would always persevere in good; and even should he live until the end of the world, he would never occupy his memory, intellect, or will on any but celestial things. But God wishes that faith should be meritorious, and not that man should serve him through self-interest; and therefore he conducts him by degrees, although he always gives him sufficient knowledge to support his faith. But afterwards he gives him such aforetaste of eternal glory, that by a clear and certain perception which he receives at the close of this life, the faith of the man, thus replenished with heavenly delights almost ceases to be faith.


     On the other hand, if man could know how greatly he must suffer hereafter for his sins, hold it for certain that for very fear he would not only abandon all things, but that he would not commit the smallest sin. But God does not wish to be served through fear, because, if man's heart were filled with terror, love could find no entrance there. It is through love that God does not permit man to behold this dreadful sight, although he does in part discover it to those who are so protected and occupied with that pure love which casteth out fear that the doors cannot be shut against them. These souls see in heaven and earth things which tongue cannot express, and they are drawn by sweet allurements and gentle ways. This is what happens to those who allow themselves to be led by faith, and who, recognizing the benignant hand of God in all that befalls them, never reject it, but rather cleave to it strongly and follow it with joy.


     But those who refuse so much goodness and deliberately persevere in living according to their own desires, will have at the moment of their death a vision so painful and so terrible, that, having in themselves even one defect, they will be unable to endure the sight. And, therefore amazed at such stupidity, the saint exclaimed: "O miserable man, who will not provide against a fate so unhappy, and caused only by thine own obstinacy! Thou thinkest not of it, yet know that it will befall thee when it is too late. In heaven nothing can enter which is defiled, and purgatory must cleanse thee before thou canst attain eternal felicity."


     "God," she said, "leads man by a road intermediate between these two. He shows him always great tokens of his love, in order to attract man, who is naturally more inclined to act through love than fear. Yet he gives him also the motive of fear, that by it he may more readily abandon his sins. But neither the love nor the fear which God grants him are so great as to force man towards him, because it is his will that grace should be accomplished by free-will and faith, by which man does all that is within his power. The rest God effects by his good inspirations, which, when once man has yielded his consent, easily incite him to combat his rebellious nature, and, by the help of the great satisfaction which God imparts, to hold it at its true value."


     And therefore she said: "When I see that God is ever ready to give us all the interior and exterior aids necessary for our salvation, and that he observes our deeds solely for our own good; when, on the other hand, I see man continually occupied in useless things, contrary to himself and of no value; and that at the hour of death God will say to him: `What is there, O man, that I could have done for thee which I have not done?' and that man will clearly know this to be true; I believe that he will have to render a stricter account for this than for all other sins, and I am amazed and cannot understand how man can be so mad as to neglect a thing of such vast and extreme importance."


     The vision which she had of all this was not represented to her mind in a manner so weak as that in which it is here recounted, but so clearly that it seemed to her that she could see and touch it. And doubtless he who should behold such a sight would rather choose death itself than offend God voluntarily, even in the least degree. This, however, did not cause her such wonder when she considered the great evils from which men are freed and the eternal joys to which they are destined and sweetly guided. Therefore she held herself in great aversion and did not hesitate to say: "In this life I desire neither grace nor mercy, but only justice and vengeance upon the evil-doer." She said this with much earnestness, because she saw that the mercy and goodness of God toward his elect infinitely surpass their gratitude toward him and their sorrow for their sins, and therefore she could not endure that her own offences against her Love should go unpunished.


     This appeared to be the reason why she cared little about gaining plenary indulgences; not that she did not hold them in great reverence and devotion, or esteem them of great value, but that for her own part she would rather be chastised and receive the just punishment assigned her, than by this satisfaction be released in the sight of God. The Offended seemed to her to be of such goodness, and the offender so much opposed to him in all things, that she could not endure to see anything which was not subjected to the divine justice, that so it might be well chastised. And, therefore, to abandon all hope of escaping this righteous pain she did not seek for plenary indulgences nor even recommend herself to the prayers of others, in order that she might be ever subject, and be punished and condemned as she had deserved.


     What has just been said can be comprehended in the state of perfection to which the saint had been raised, and in which, being as it were secure of victory, she desired to combat purely for the greater glory of her Lord, and, like a valiant soldier, neither sought for nor desired any assistance. And being unable to support the sight of an offence against God, she said to him:


     "My Love, I can endure all things else, but to have offended thee is a thing so dreadful and unbearable to me that I pray thee to let me suffer anything else than to see that I have done so. The insults that I have offered thee I am sorry to have offered, nor can I ever consent to offend thee more. At the hour of death show me rather all the demons with all their plains, for I would think it nothing in comparison with the sight of one offense against thee, however slight; though nothing could be slight which displeased thine infinite majesty.


     "I know for certain that if the soul which truly loves, should behold in herself one thing which separated her from God, her Spouse, her body would be ground into powder. This I know by means of the extreme and unspeakable torments which I suffer from the interior fire which burns within me; and hence, I conclude that love cannot endure even the least opposition, nor will it remain with any one who does not first remove all obstacles and impediments in order to remain with it in peace and perfect quiet."
 

CHAPTER XXI

How she was disposed toward God and toward her neighbor.--What pure and simple love is.


     This holy Soul was so regulated by God, that in all that was necessary and reasonable she satisfied every one; and although she was entirely employed in serving her sweet Love, yet she was never willing to displease her neighbor either in word or deed, but on the contrary always assisted him as far as she was able. She said, however, to her Lord: "Thou hast commanded me to love my neighbor, and I am unable to love any one but thee, or to admit any partner with thee: how then shall I obey thee?" And interiorly he responded thus: "He who loves me loves also all whom I love. It suffices that for the welfare of the neighbor thou shouldst do all that is necessary for his soul and body. Such a love as this is sure to be without passion; because it is not in himself but in God that the neighbor should be loved."


     Speaking afterwards on this subject, she said: "Before God created man, love was pure and simple, free from all taint of self-interest, and needing no restraint. And in creating man, God was moved by no other cause except his pure love. In all that he did for him he had no other motive or object. And as his love allows nothing to prevent it from doing all possible good to its beloved, and attends to nothing which is not necessary to that end, so the love of man should return to God all that it receives from him; and then, having no respect to anything but love, it will fear nothing, because it never seeks its own advantage."


     She said again: "Not only is pure love incapable of suffering, but it cannot even comprehend what suffering or pain can be, nor understand the wicked actions which it sees others do. And, were it possible for it to feel all the pains which are felt by the devils and the damned souls, it could never say that they were pains; because, in order to feel or comprehend pain, it truly is necessary to be without this love.


     "The true and pure love is of such force that it cannot be diverted from its object, nor can it see or feel anything else. Hence it is useless toil to try to make such creatures employ themselves in the things of this world, for with regard to them they are as insensible as if they were dead.


     "It is impossible to describe this love in words or figures which will not, in comparison with the reality, seem entirely false. This only can be understood, namely, that the human intellect is unable to comprehend it. And to him who seeks to know what it is that I know and feel, I can only reply that it transcends all utterance."
 

CHAPTER XXII

Of her vocation, which was like that of St. Paul.--That she was freed from suffering by her great love.--How terrible is man without grace.--How great is the stain of even one slight defect, and still more that of a sin.


     The vocation and the correspondence of this holy Soul were like those of the glorious apostle St. Paul; that is, that in one instant (as was narrated in the beginning), she was made perfect. And this was evident, because in that instant and ever thereafter she proceeded not like a beginner but like one already perfect; for this reason she never knew how to give any account of the way to obtain perfection, because she herself had never attained it by acquired virtues, but simply by infused grace, which instantaneously wrought in her such effects as usually require the uninterrupted exercises of a whole life.


     And being thus transformed in God, the fire of love which burned in her purified heart was as great at the beginning as at the end of her conversion--which was a miraculous thing. She said that after she was called and wounded with love she never experienced any suffering, either interior or exterior, either from the world, the devil, or the flesh, or from any other cause. This was the effect of her interior transformation in God, so that although many adversities befell her, nevertheless she never found her will opposed to them, but on the contrary she received all things as from God, and, thus mingled with his love, nothing failed to please her. Her humanity, too, was so subjected to the spirit that it never rebelled, although it was obliged to perform many penances; so that in her was fulfilled that saying: My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God (Psalm lxxxiii).


     And therefore she said: "When I see the greatness of the spiritual operation, and behold how important is any offence against God or his grace, I find it impossible to conceive of any other suffering or any other hell, than to have sinned against him. All other pains which it is possible to endure in this life, are consolations in comparison with this; just as, on the other hand, all things inferior to God which may seem to have a sort of goodness are yet, in comparison with him, only evil; this however, I know well, will hardly be understood by him who does not know it by experience.


     "On the other hand, I know not how man can be so blind as not to see that unless God sustains us by his grace, we are full of sorrow, bitterness, wrath, discontent, and woe, even in this present life, where, however, we are never entirely abandoned by him, no matter how great our sins may be. For, if a man could possibly live this mortal life, when entirely forsaken by God (excepting only the divine justice, failing which he would be annihilated,) I am certain that whoever beheld such a being would die. And not only he who beheld him, but he who, though far removed from him, should learn of his existence and comprehend the misery of his state, would also be deprived of life. To be abandoned by God is a thing too terrible and vast for human words to express, or human intellects to comprehend.


     "Alas! with how many perils is man surrounded in this life! When I consider of what great importance are spiritual life and death, if God did not sustain me I believe that I should die. If I could have any desire, it would be that of expressing all that I feel and know concerning this; and if it were granted me to demonstrate what I wish by martyrdom, I do not believe I could find any torments which I would not joyfully undergo, if so I might warn man of the importance of this truth.


     "When I beheld that vision in which I saw the magnitude of the stain of even one least sin against God, I know not why I did not die. I said: `I no longer marvel that hell is so horrible, since it was made for sin; for even hell (as I have seen it) I do not believe to be really proportionate to the dreadfulness of sin; on the contrary, it seems to me that even in hell God is very merciful, since I have beheld the terrible stain caused by but one venial sin. And what, in comparison to that, would be a mortal sin? And then so many mortal sins? Surely, if any one could behold all this, even if he were immortal, anguish would once more make him mortal. Even that slight and solitary vision which I beheld, and which lasted but an instant, if it had continued but a little longer would have destroyed my body had it been made of adamant.'


     "But all that I can say concerning it seems false beside what I truly comprehend. For this vision brought me so near death that my blood congealed and my whole body was so enfeebled that I seemed to be passing beyond this life; but the goodness of God desired that I should live to narrate it.


     "And afterwards I said: `I no longer wonder that purgatory is as terrible as hell, since one is to punish and the other to cleanse: both of them are made for sin, which is so horrible that both its punishment and its purgation must needs correspond with it in horror.' Man could understand this if he considered his evil inclinations, and how wretched he is when left to himself. But God does not permit this vision to be seen except by those who are, as it were, confirmed in grace, and even these he allows to see only so much as will be for their own good and that of others. And he shows them also that goodness which rescues man from these great and incomprehensible perils to which he is subject,, although he beholds them not; but God knows them and their importance, and therefore the great love he bears us moves him to compassion, and so long as we are in this life he never ceases to incite us to well-doing, in order that we may not be more deeply plunged into evil."


     From this may be seen how it was that the conversion of this Soul was accomplished, like that of St. Paul, who, rapt into heaven, beheld the glory of the just, while St. Catherine beheld the pains which sinners have merited by their crimes, how full of abomination they are, and how earnestly to be fled from.
 

CHAPTER XXIII

Of self-love and of divine love, and of their conditions.


     This illuminated Soul said that she saw a vision of self-love, and beheld that its master and lord was the demon; and she said that self-hate would be a better name for it, because it makes man do all the evil that it wills, and in the end precipitates him into hell. She beheld it in man, as it were by essence, both spiritually and corporally, and in each of these ways it seemed so entirely incorporated with him that it appeared to her almost impossible that he should be purified in this life.


     She said also: "The true self-love has these properties: First, it cares not whether it injures either its own soul and body or those of its neighbor, nor does it value the goods and reputation of either itself or others; for the sake of accomplishing its ends it is as rigorous with itself as with others, and will submit to no possible contradiction. When it has resolved upon any action, it remains unmoved by either promises or threats, how great soever they may be, but perseveres in its course, caring neither for slavery nor poverty, for infamy nor weakness, for purgatory, death, nor hell, for it is so blind that it cannot see these things or recognize their importance. If one should say to man that if he would abandon his self-love he would acquire riches, gain health, possess in this world all that heart can desire, and be certain of heaven hereafter, he would yet repel them all, because his heart is unable to value any good, either temporal or eternal, which does not bear the impress of self-love; everything else he despises and counts for nothing, while to this he becomes a slave, going wherever it wills, and so submissive that he has no other choice. He neither speaks, thinks, nor understands aught else. If he is called mad and foolish, he cares nothing for it, nor is he offended by the derision or others. He has shut his eyes and closed his ears to all else, and holds them as if they were not."


     She said moreover: "Self-love is so subtle a robber that it commits its thefts, even upon God himself, without fear or shame, employing his goods as if they were its own, and assigning as a reason that it cannot live without them. And this robbery is hidden under so many veils of apparent good that it can hardly be detected except by the penetrating light of true love, which always desires to remain uncovered and bare, both in heaven and earth, because it has nothing shameful to conceal.


     "And, therefore, self-love never understands the nature of pure love; for pure love sees not how the things which it knows as they are in truth could possibly be possessed or appropriated; nothing would displease it so much as to find anything which it could call its own; the reason of this is that pure love sees not, nor can it ever see, anything but truth itself, which, being by its nature communicable to all, can never be monopolized by any. Self-love, on the other hand, is in itself an obstacle to truth, and neither believes it nor beholds it, but rather, confiding in itself, holds truth as an enemy and an alien.


     "But the spiritual self-love is much more perilous than the corporal, for it is bitter poison whose antidote is hard to find. It is yet more artfully veiled, and passes sometimes as sanctity or necessity, or again, as charity or pity, hiding itself beneath almost infinite disguises, the sight of which causes my heart almost to faint within me.


     "Behold also what blindness self-love occasions between God and man, and know that no evil can be so great as this; yet man does not perceive it, but seems to hold it as salutary, and to rejoice over what ought rather to make him weep.


     "There is no doubt that, if man could perceive the many difficulties thrown by self-love in the way of his own good, he would no longer allow himself to be deceived by it; and its malignity is the more to be dreaded because it is so powerful that were but one grain of it in the world would be sufficient to corrupt all mankind. Wherefore I conclude that self-love is the root of all evils which exist in this world and in the other. Behold Lucifer, whose present state is the result of following the suggestions of his self-love; and in ourselves it seems to me even worse. Our father Adam has so contaminated us that to my eyes the evil appears almost incurable, for it so penetrates our veins, our nerves, our bones, that we can neither say nor think nor do anything which is not full of the poison of this love--not even those thoughts and deeds which are directed toward the purification of the spirit.


     "For so great and hopeless an infirmity no remedy can be found but God, and if he does not heal us in this world by his grace, our defects must needs be cleansed hereafter by the fire of purgatory; it being necessary, before it is possible for us to behold the pure face of God, that we should be freed from all our stains. And, therefore, when I see how rigorous and severe is this purgation, and that it is not in man's power to escape from self-love, or to see and understand the dangers of its hidden venom as it is necessary that he should, I long to cry out in a voice that should even pierce the heavens, `God help me, God help me,' and continue this cry so long as life remains to me.


     "Consider, then, that if this love is of such force that it makes man regardless of life or death, heaven or hell, how incomparably greater must that divine love be, which God himself infuses by his great goodness into our hearts. This love, unlike the other, has an eye not only to the welfare of our souls and bodies, but to those of our neighbor, and is careful to preserve his honor and his goods. It is benignant and gentle in all things and to all men; it renounces its self-will, and accepts instead the will of God, to whom it always submits. God, moreover, by his incomparable love, so inflames, purifies, illuminates, and fortifies its will that it no longer fears anything but sin, because that alone displeases God; and, therefore, rather than commit the least sin, it would choose to undergo the most atrocious torments that can be imagined.


     "This is one of the effects of the divine love which gives man such liberty, peace, and contentment that he seems almost to enjoy heaven while yet in this life, and is so absorbed that he can neither speak, nor think, nor desire aught beside.


     "This divine love, which thus separates us from the world and from ourselves in order to unite us to God, is our only true and proper love. When, then, it has been thus infused into our hearts, what more can we desire in this world or in the other? Death becomes a thing longed after, and hell loses its terrors for the soul which loves; for it dreads nothing but sin, which alone can separate it from its beloved. Oh, if men, and especially those who love, could only know how great and heavy a thing it is to offend God, they would know it to be the greatest hell that could be suffered: he who has once enjoyed this sweet and gentle love, and lost it through any fault of his, would suffer agonies like those of the condemned souls, and esteem no toils too great by which he might once more regain it. Long experience has taught me that the love of God is our life, our bliss, and our repose, and that self-love is continual weariness, misery, and death both in this world and in the other."
 

CHAPTER XXIV

Concerning the three ways which God takes to purify the creature.


     This holy Soul said: "I see three ways which God takes when he wishes to purify the creature.


     "The first is when he gives it a love so stripped of all things that, even if it desired, it could neither see nor wish for anything but this love, which by reason of its poverty and simplicity, is able to detect every vestige of self-love; and, seeing the truth it can never be self-deceived, but is reduced to such despair of itself that it is unable to say or do anything which could afford it either corporal or spiritual consolation. And thus, by degrees, its self-love is destroyed, since it is certain that he who eats not, dies. Notwithstanding this, however, so great is the evil of self-love that it clings to man almost to the end of his life. I have seen this in myself, for, from time to time I have found many natural desires destroyed within me which had previously seemed to me very good and perfect; but when they were thus removed I saw that they had been depraved and faulty, and in accordance with those spiritual and bodily infirmities which, being hidden from me, I had not supposed myself to possess. And this is why it is necessary to attain such a subtlety of spiritual vision, in order that all which at first appears to us perfection may in the end be known as imperfections, robberies, and woes; all this is clearly revealed in that mirror of truth, pure love, in which all things appears distorted which to us had seemed upright.


     "The second mode which I beheld, and which pleased me more than the first, is that in which God gives man a mind occupied with great suffering; for that makes him know himself, and how abject and vile he is. This vision of his own misery keeps him in great poverty, and deprives him of all things which could afford him any savor of good; thus his self-love is not able to nourish itself, and from lack of nourishment it wastes away until at last man understands that if God did not hold his hand, giving him his being, and removing from him this hateful vision, he could never issue from this hell. And when God is pleased to take away this vision of his utter hopelessness in himself, afterwards he remains in great peace and consolation.


     "The third mode, which is still more excellent than either of these, is when God gives his creature a mind so occupied in him, that neither interiorly nor exteriorly is it able to think of anything but God, and those things which are his. Even the works which it performs it does not think of or hold in any esteem, except in so far as they are necessary to the love of God; and hence it seems like one dead to the world, for it is unable to delight itself in anything or to understand anything, even if it wished to do so, either in heaven or on earth; there is given to it also such a poverty of spirit that it knows neither what it has nor what it does, nor does it make any provision for what it should do, either with regard to God or to the world, for itself or for its neighbor, because it is not shown how it may do so, but is always held by God in union with him and in sweet confusion.


     "In this way the soul remains rich, yet poor, unable to appropriate anything, or to nourish itself, because it is necessary that it should be lost and annihilated in itself, and thus find itself in God, in whom, in truth, it was from the beginning although it knew not how it was so.


     "There is also the religious life, of which I will say nothing further, because all must pass through one of these three ways of which I have been speaking, and also because it has been sufficiently treated of by others."
 

CHAPTER XXV

The manner in which the saint was medically treated for bodily infirmity, when her suffering was from spiritual fire, and of other accidents that befell her.


     The perfection of this saint, thus illuminated by God, the true light, could not be understood, for it did not manifest itself by outward acts but all her perfection was in the interior of her soul, in the view of herself and of her God, with whom she was united in an extraordinary manner, and also in secret interior conversations, some of which she repeated twice (although she could poorly utter them in words), not as they actually took place within, for they were unutterable, and she could only express them by similitudes.


     The state of this soul was not passive, as it is wont to be with others, forso profound was her sense of the importance of what she saw, that it inflamed her heart to such a degree that she fell dangerously ill. It is easy to perceive from this, how far such a creature was removed from the common experience. Usually, men hardly feel any compunction for the sins they have committed, and of venial offences they scarcely make any account; but the body of the saint was almost rent in pieces when it was given her to see the greatness of even a venial sin, and if God had discovered to her one of these sins in herself, she certainly would have fallen dead.


     Her sufferings were often so great that recourse was had to medical treatment, and letting of blood was ordered to relieve the burning fire of the spirit and restore the power of speech, but with little effect. Medicines were also administered when she seemed near her end, but they increased her suffering, although she took them in obedience. It then began to be understood that God was the author of these things, and she was left to struggle with her attacks without medicine, but it required great care and watchfulness to preserve her life. The devoted attendants who surrounded her were confounded, and she would sometimes say, in a voice scarcely audible: "Now my heart seems as if in ashes, I am consuming with love." At other times, to relieve her humanity, she would go into a solitary apartment, and there cast herself upon the ground, crying: "O love, I can bear no more;" and, writhing in agony, the house would resound with her cries and lamentations.


     Sometimes, when walking in the garden, she would address the plants and trees, saying: "Are you not creatures created by my God? are you not obedient to him?" And thus discoursing, she would obtain some relief to her sufferings, but if she perceived she was overheard, she suddenly stopped, and answered any one who spoke to her according to the necessities of the affairs of human life.
 

CHAPTER XXVI

Of the three things to which she could not consent, and of those which she could not refrain from desiring.


     This soul had so close a union with God, and her free-will was brought into such subjection, that she felt no resistance nor choice, having conquered all things, more than humanity can comprehend; yet she said there were three things to two of which she could not consent, and a third which she could not but desire.


     In the first place she could not consent to, nor commit any, even the smallest, sin. For having the greatest horror of sin, and having attained, through the sight of her own misery, to the greatest simplicity, she did not perceive it in others, and could not comprehend how men could consent to it, particularly to mortal sin; and if perchance she saw with her own eyes some inexcusable sin, still she could not understand that there could be in man the malice of sin, believing that others honored God as she honored him.


     Secondly, and this, although obscure to the imperfect intellect, was clear to her, she could not unite with the will of God in suffering so cruel a passion, and she would rather have endured all the pains of all the souls in hell, than that her Love should suffer such punishment.


     The third thing, and it was this that she could not refrain from desiring, was holy communion; for the holy communion is nothing but God himself. And in this she testified the great reverence and honor in which she held priests, namely, by affirming that if the priest had not been willing to give her communion, she would have taken it patiently, and not persisted; but wishing to receive communion, she could not say that she did not wish it.
 

CHAPTER XXVII

Of the sweetness of the divine precepts, and the advantage of temporal adversity.


     All things took place in this holy soul in the order of true love; and she sometimes said to her Lord: "O Love! If others are bound to keep thy commandments, I am bound to keep them by a tenfold obligation, because they are sweet and full of love. Thou dost not command things that lead to evil; but to him who obeys thou givest great peace, love, and union with thyself. This cannot be understood by one who has not experienced it; for the divine precepts, although they are contrary to sensuality, are yet in accordance with the spirit which, by its nature, seeks separation from all the bodily senses, by union with God, to which union I find every other love of things inferior to God to be a hindrance."


     She saw that all things are necessary which God ordains, who is only waiting to consume interiorly and exteriorly all our corrupt affections, and that all wrongs, injuries, contempt, sickness, poverty, abandonment of relatives and friends, the temptations of the devil, mortifications, and all else contrary to humanity, are especially needful to us, that we may combat with them, till at length gaining through them the victory, our corrupt affections may be extinguished, until adversity appears to us no longer bitter, but sweet.


     Whoever believes that anything good or bad can befall him, which can separate him from God, shows that he is not yet strong in divine charity; for man should fear nothing but to offend God, and all beside should be to him as if it were not. For herself, she said, that she seemed to see in her heart a ray of love proceeding from God, binding them together with a golden thread, and had no fear that it would ever be loosed; and this had been the case ever since her conversion. Her sweet Lord gave her such confidence that when she was moved to pray for anything, something within seemed to say: "Command, for love can do it." Indeed she had every thing she asked, with all possible certainty.


     She was wont to say: "The love of God is our proper love, for we are created for that alone; the love, on the contrary, for everything beside, ought in truth to be termed hatred, since it deprives us of our proper love, which is God. Love then God, who loves thee, and leave him who does not love thee, namely, everything beneath God; for all things are enemies to that true love. Oh! that I could make this truth be felt as I myself feel it: I am certain that there is no creature who would not love Him; so that if the sea were the food of love, there are no men or women, who would not drown themselves in it, and those who were at a distance from it would always be drawing nearer to it, that they might plunge into it; for every pleasure, when compared to it, is pain, and such riches does it confer on a man, that all beside should seem to him but misery.


     "It makes him so light that he does not feel the earth beneath his feet; his affections are so fixed on things above that he loses all sense of suffering here below, and he is so free, that there is nothing to keep him from the presence of God. If you asked me: `What dost thou feel?' I should answer thee: `What eye could not see, nor ear hear;' but I am ashamed to speak of it in my poor language, for I am certain that all I can say of God, is not of God, but only fragments that fall from his table.'"

 

CHAPTER XXVIII

The process of annihilation of man in God illustrated by the figure of the eating of bread.--Of her interior and exterior.


     "Take a loaf," said the saint, "and eat it, and after you have eaten it, its substance goes to the nutriment of the body, and what is superfluous passes away; for if nature retained it, having no need of it, the body would die. Now if that bread should say to the body: Why do you deprive me of my existence, for by my nature I am not satisfied to be thus reduced to nothingness? If I could, I would defend myself from thee, for it is natural for every creature to preserve itself,--the body would answer: Bread, thy being is designed for my support, which is more worthy than thee, and hence thou shouldst be more content with the end for which thou wast created, than with thy own being; for if it were not for thy end, thy being would have no value but to be thrown aside, as something worthless and dead. It is thy end which gives thee a dignity to which thou canst not attain but by means of thy annihilation. If thou wouldst live for thy end, thou wouldst care for thy being, but wouldst say: Quickly, quickly, take me from myself, and let me attain my end for which I am created."


     This soul became so detached, both exteriorly and interiorly, that she could no longer perform her accustomed exercises, for she had lost all vigor of mind and body. She had no desire to confess; but going to confession, as usual, she found that she had no part in any sin; and when she attempted to mention her offences generally, it seemed to her that she was deceiving; and through her entire detachment she was in possession of the greatest peace, of which she was never divested.
 

CHAPTER XXIX

The saint urged to give an idea of her state.


     Of free-will this blessed one said, that when she considered carefully her vocation, she saw such great things effected by God in her, that it almost seemed as if she had been forced by him, for she could nowhere see her own consent, but rather it seemed to her that she had resisted, especially in the beginning, and the sense of this had inflamed her with a burning love. But generally, when speaking of it, she said: "God first arouses man from sin, then with the light of faith illuminates the intellect, and afterwards, with a certain satisfaction and zeal, inflames the will. And Almighty God does this in an instant, although we tell it in many words, and measure it by time."


     When the saint was sometimes urged by her spiritual children to give them an idea of her state in words, she would tell them it was impossible, but on one occasion she allowed a religious to interpret it, in order to gratify his desire to understand it better, which he did to her great satisfaction and joy; wherefore, with a benignant countenance, she exclaimed: "Oh my dear child, it is as you have said, and hearing you I feel that it is thus. You have said all that can be said, but the effect is incomprehensible." Then the religious said to her: "Oh mother, cannot you ask of God, your Love, some little drops of it for your children?" and she answered joyfully: "I see this sweet Love so gracious to his children, that I can ask nothing for them, but that I may present them in his presence."


     This creature became at length like a cherub to look upon, so that she gave great consolation to every one who beheld her; and those who visited her found it hard to leave her. When she was about sixty-three years of age, her heart was inflamed anew with a ray of love. This dart was so powerful and penetrating, that she felt as if severely wounded in the region of the heart, and she suffered great bodily pain. After some days she was again inflamed with love, and it always seemed to her that the last wound was the greatest.
 

CHAPTER XXX

Of her compunction for having desired death, every desire being an imperfection.--She relates her conversion to one of her spiritual children.


     In the year 1507, while present at the office for the dead, she felt a desire to die. It was a desire of the soul that it might quit the body and be united with God. The body also desired it, that it might be freed from the torment which it suffered from the flames of love in the soul; these however, were only natural desires, to which her will gave no consent.


     And as her desire was inspired by her Love who wished to purify her, and not from her will, as soon as she felt it, she suddenly exclaimed: "O Love, I desire nothing but thee, and in thy own way: but if it please thee, who dost not wish that I should die, neither that I should desire death, let me at least be present at the death and burial of others, that I may see in them that blessedness that is not bestowed on me." Love consented to this, and for some time she was present at the death and burial of all those who died in the hospital, without any desire to die herself. And by degrees, the union of love increasing in that purified heart, she lost the desire to see others die, but still, whenever she spoke of death, she seemed filled with a new and joyful emotion.


     At one time when she fell into ecstasies, and appeared as if dead, the persons around her, who did not understand her state, believed her to be suffering from what is commonly called vertigo. She herself, through humility and a desire to be unnoticed, on speaking of it to a religious, also called it vertigo: but the religious answered: "Mother, you need not use concealment with me: I entreat you for the honor and glory of God, to choose some person who will be satisfactory to you, and narrate to him the graces with which God has favored you, that when you are gone these graces may not remain hidden and unknown, and the praise and glory of God arising from them be lost." To which she answered: "It shall be as you wish, if it is the will of my sweet Love;" and she would choose no other than himself who had given her this counsel, although she knew it would be impossible for her to narrate the smallest part of those interior communications between God and the soul; and of the exterior, she had experienced almost nothing.


     At another time, in conversation with the same religious, she began to narrate her conversion and many other things, as well as she could, which have been faithfully collected and introduced into the present volume.
 

CHAPTER XXXI

How the saint left the whole care of herself to Love; and what means Love employed to purify her from her imperfections.


     When Love had taken upon himself the care and control of everything, he never more abandoned it. "And I," said the saint, "gave the keys of the house to Love, with full power to do all that was necessary, and I took no heed of body or soul, friends, relatives, or the world; but of all that the law of pure love requires I took care that the least part should not be wanting. And when I saw Love accepting the charge, and producing the effect, I turned towards him, and was occupied in watching this, his work. And he made me look upon many things as unjust and imperfect, which before had appeared to myself and others as just and perfect, and in everything was found defects. If I spoke of spiritual things, Love suddenly checked me, telling me that I must not speak, but let the flame burn on within, no word and no act escaping which should serve to refresh either soul or body.


     "One day I asked my confessor if I should try to eat, that I might not cause any injury to the soul or body. Love answered me within, and my confessor from without: `Who is this who speaks of eating or not eating, under the form of a motive? Be silent, for I know you, and you cannot deceive me.' Finding his eye so acute and powerful, I gave up all to him, asking God to do with me what seemed to him good; to strip me of all things and clothe me with his simple, pure, powerful, great, and burning love.


     "And then Love exclaimed: `It is my will to leave every one naked, naked; neither will I have anything above me nor under me. And be it known to you, that such is my nature and condition, that I convert and change into myself all souls that can be changed, despoiling them of self.' Love will be alone. If another should be in his company, the gates of heaven would be closed against him, for they are open only to pure Love. Let each one, then, leave himself to be guided by Love, that he may be conducted to that end which pure Love desires all to attain.


     "Pure Love draws the soul to himself in a variety of ways, and when he sees her occupied with any affection, he marks all things that she loves as his enemies, and consumes them without sparing herself or her body; and although the nature of Love would destroy them by one blow, yet seeing the weakness of man, he cuts away little by little, and silently; for we cling so firmly to the object of our love, which we esteem beautiful, good, and just, that we will listen to nothing that opposes us; therefore Love says: `I will put my hand to the work, for with words I can do nothing; I will destroy all things that thou lovest, by death, infirmity, or poverty; by hatred and discord; by detraction, scandal, lies, and infamy; by relatives, by friends, and by thyself, till thou knowest not what to do, finding thyself cast out from all things that constituted thy delight, and receiving from them only pain and confusion; neither dost thou understand these operations of divine Love, all of which seem contrary to reason, both as regards God and the world; therefore thou dost cry and lament, striving and hoping to escape from this distress, and thou wilt never escape from it.'


     "When divine Love has kept a soul thus in suspense, and, as it were, desperate, and disgusted with all things that before she loved, then he shows her himself with his divinely joyful and radiant countenance, and as soon as the soul perceives it, naked and destitute she casts herself into his hands, crying: `O blind one, what didst thou seek? what hast thou desired! here are all the delights thou hast sought! O divine Love, how sweetly hast thou deceived me in order to strip me of all self-love and clothe me with pure love abounding with every delight! Now that I see the truth, I have nothing to lament but my ignorance.'"
 

CHAPTER XXXII

How well regulated was the saint in all things.--Of the opposition of her spirit to humanity, and how humanity tormented her.


     With this blessed soul everything was so well ordered, that wherever she had control, or could offer a remedy, she never could endure any disorder; and she could neither live nor converse with persons who were not well regulated, especially if they were those who appeared to have entered with herself the way of perfection; and when she saw them countenancing any imperfection, and taking part in any of those things which she had learned to abhor, she left their company.


     She was very compassionate to all creatures, although merciless to their defects, so that when an animal was killed, or a tree cut down, she could hardly bear to see them lose the life that God had given them, but she would have been very severe in rooting out the evil from one who had brought it upon himself by sin.


     She could not see her own sins, or realize that she must sometimes commit them, neither could she believe that others would sin; and so entire was the peace of her mind, that it seemed to substitute for bodily sleep. Such repose was, however, more refreshing to her body than natural sleep, for sleep takes off the mind from God. She was so restrained interiorly, that she was wont to say: "If I uttered a word, breathed a sigh, or cast a glance towards any person who could understand me, my humanity would be well content, as a thirsty person when given a drink." Meaning by this that when she was pierced by the arrows of divine love, she lost all feeling and remained motionless, until God, as it often happened, relieved her from this occupation.


     So opposite and repugnant was the spirit to humanity, that when humanity wept, the spirit laughed, and held her in such subjection as to reprove her, not only for every unnecessary action, but for every word, not permitting those around to offer her any alleviation in her trials, seeming ever lovingly to mock her by exciting her desires for these things with which she was accustomed to console herself, allowing her to taste all things, and then suddenly destroying all relish for them, till by degrees she had none left for any earthly thing, and could find no exterior or interior nourishment, and in this desolation a secret longing would come over her to hide herself, and weep, and lament.


     Sometimes she would cast herself into the hedge of rose trees in the garden, and seize the thorns with both hands, without feeling the pain, so entire was the occupation of her mind. She would bite and burn her hands, to relieve the interior suffering that consumed her, and the most extreme external pain she esteemed as nothing. Her body was often so deserted by the spirit, that without any resistance on her part four persons could not move her from her seat. All these things were not done voluntarily, but by a spontaneous impulse; neither did she find any consolation upon the earth, but was constrained to shun those things without which others cannot live.


     She found no solace except in her confessor, with whom she had an interior and exterior correspondence. But he, too, was taken from her, and her sufferings greatly increased, because there was nothing to which she could have recourse either in Heaven or on earth, and she was wont to say: "I am in this world like one who is away from home, who has left all his relatives and friends, and finds himself in a foreign land; when having accomplished the business for which he was sent he is ready to leave and go home, where his heart and mind are; for so ardent is his love of his own country, that a day of absence seems a year."


     She felt herself every day more and more restrained, like one who is confined at first within the walls of a city; then in a house without a garden, now in a hall, now in a chamber, then again in an antechamber; sometimes in a dimly lighted, remote apartment, then in a dark prison, her hands tied, her feet chained, her eyes bandaged, and without food; for no one could speak with her and she was left without hope of release but by death; she had no consolation but the knowledge that it is a merciful God who does all this in his love; and with this she was satisfied.


     On one occasion, hearing some one repeat the words: "Arise, arise, ye dead, and come to judgment;" she cried aloud, in the excess of love: "Would that I could come now, now;" and all who heard her were astonished. With that burning love in her heart, it seemed to her that she could pass through the most searching judgment; for she saw nothing in herself for that judgment to condemn; she even took pleasure in the thought of it, for she earnestly desired to see the infinitely powerful and just judge, who makes all things tremble, except pure and simple love.
 

CHAPTER XXXIII

How an evil spirit, that had possession of one of her spiritual daughters, named her Catherine Serafina.


     This holy soul had, in the house with her, a spiritual daughter who was tormented by the devil, who frequently attacked her, even throwing her upon the ground, and by this violence driving her almost to desperation. This evil spirit even entered into her mind, and prevented her from thinking of divine things, so that it seemed to her that she was separated from God, and lost. She was beside herself, and fell so entirely under his diabolical will, that she became almost a demon herself. She was insupportable to herself, and found no peace except in the presence of her spiritual mother; for when they were together, at a glance they understood each other, one having the spirit of God, and the other its opposite.


     One day this afflicted creature, vexed by the unclean spirit, knelt at the feet of the blessed Catherine, in the presence of their confessor; and the devil through her said: "We are both slaves by reason of that pure love that thou hast in thy heart." and then, enraged with himself for having uttered these words, cast her upon the ground, winding about like a serpent. When she had risen from the ground, the confessor said: "What is the name of this woman, tell me," and the evil spirit answered: Catherine, and would say no more. Then the confessor said: "Tell me her surname, is it Adorno or Fieschi?" and he would not answer; but the confessor insisted, and he at length said: Catherine Serafina, but he uttered these words struggling with great agony.


     This afflicted being possessed a powerful intellect, and she lived in virginity. The Lord, perhaps, sent this affliction upon her to keep her humble. She died a holy death, but the evil spirit never left her until the very last moment.


     The blessed Catherine, while reflecting on the opposition between pure love and the evil spirit, was accustomed to say that man did not consider the difference, and did not appreciate extreme love as he ought, "For truly," she added, "he who does not know precious stones, does not value them."


     And, filled with compassion for the blindness of man, she said: "If by taking my blood and giving it to man to drink, I could make known to him this truth, I would give it all for love of him. I cannot endure the thought that man, created for the good that I see and know, should lose it


     Catherine persevered in this way for about twenty-five years, instructed and directed by God alone, by a wonderful, divine operation. Afterwards, perhaps on account of the approach of old age and her extreme weakness, the Lord sent a director who took charge of her soul and of her bodily health; a spiritual person of holy life, in every way fitted for such a charge, to whom God gave the light and grace to know his designs in regard to her. He was chosen rector of the hospital where she lived, he heard her confessions, said mass for her, and gave her communion, whenever he could do so.


     This priest, at the request of some spiritual persons who were devoted to the saint, wrote most of the present work, having urged and induced her to relate the extraordinary graces which God had conferred upon her, especially as this religious, by long intercourse, well understood the order of her life. The first time that she made her confession to him, she said: "Father, I know not where I am, as to my soul or my body. I wish to confess, but I do not see any offence that I have committed." And the faults that she enumerated did not seem to her sins of thought, word, or deed; for she was like a child who, when in his childishness he ignorantly does something which he is told is wrong, suddenly changes color, and blushes, but not because he is sensible to the fault.


     She sometimes said to her confessor: "I do not know how to make my confession, for I have not enough exterior or interior feeling to be able to accuse myself of having said those things on account of which I feel some stings of conscience. I would not fail to make my confession, and I do not know whom I am to accuse of my sins; I would accuse myself, but I cannot."


     When God was effecting anything within her that troubled her, she submitted it entirely to her confessor, and conferred with him; and he, by the divine light and grace, understood the whole, giving her such replies that he seemed to feel what she felt. This was a great consolation to her, so that she spoke to him with entire confidence, and could not be satisfied until she had discovered to him all she felt. When she was prevented from communicating to him anything that was upon her mind, she felt as if in burning flames, but after she had spoken of it to her father, she was tranquil and satisfied.


     It was a great consolation to her that he could understand her by a glance, when she could not speak, allaying the violence of the burning fire within, and strengthening her exhausted frame. The interior action was so intense that it became necessary to divert her mind by external things, and that diversion was torture to her, for it did violence to her heart. At one time, having been in a weak state for several days, she took the hand of her confessor and raised it to her face, and the odor of it penetrated her heart with such a fulness of exterior and interior sweetness that it seemed supernatural.


     The confessor asking her what was the nature of that odor, she answered that it was an odor that God had sent to comfort the soul and body in their sufferings; that it was so penetrating and sweet that it seemed as if it could bring the dead to life, and she added: "Since God grants it to me, I shall console myself with it so long as it pleases him." The confessor, believing that as it was given through him he too could perceive it, raised his own hand to smell the fragrance of it, but there was none there, and it was told him that God does not give his good things to those who seek them, but only bestows them in cases of necessity, and for some great spiritual result.


     The saint also said that she was permitted to see that this odor was a drop of the beatitude that the body with its senses will enjoy in heaven, through the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; by which every one will be satisfied eternally in body as well as soul. Her body and soul were strengthened and refreshed for several days by the impression and remembrance of this odor.


     On one occasion she said to her confessor, who was sometimes absent from her: "It seems to me that God has given you the care of me alone, and that you ought not to attend to any one else; for I have persevered during the twenty-five years in the spiritual life without the help of any creature, but now that I cannot endure such interior and exterior conflicts, God has sent you to me. If you know how terribly I suffer when you are absent, you would rather remain with me in my trials, than go in search of any recreation; and yet I would not ask you not to go."


     And indeed it appeared as if every remedy and relief that God allowed to her soul and body was given her by this confessor, who, at the moment provided her with thoughts and words, which were suited to her necessities, so that he was amazed at them himself, and when the occasion for them was past, no remembrance of them remained.


     And because this continual intercourse and close familiarity roused some to murmur who did not understand the necessity for them, the confessor withdrew and was absent for three days, to ascertain whether this necessity was wholly divine without any human mixture, and to relieve himself from every scruple; but he repented making the trial, on account of the severe sufferings of the saint. Moreover, he was in secret reproved by God for his incredulity, when he had been so long a witness to so many supernatural signs, one of which would have been sufficient to convert a Jew; and after this his scruples never returned.


     The saint continued for many years in this state of dependence on her confessor, and by the grace of God, through all his attendance upon her, in his fatigues and trials, his health never failed. When she concealed from him any interior operation, it was intimated to him by some divine inspiration, and he would say to her: "You have such and such a thing on your mind, and you wish to deny it to me, but God will not permit you." At these words she was greatly surprised, and acknowledged that they were true, and afterwards was freed from her sufferings. Sometimes she would say to her confessor: "What do you think is in my mind?" and although he knew nothing of it, yet at that moment words were given him, and he told her the whole.
 

CHAPTER XXXV

Treatment of the saint by her husband, and how she obtained salvation of his soul from God, and also that of Sister Tommasa Fiesca, her companion.


     As we have mentioned before, this creature, so favored by God, was married at the age of sixteen to Guiliano Adorno, who, although of a noble family, was of a perverse and stubborn temper, and conducted his affairs so badly, that he was reduced to poverty; yet she was always obedient, and patient with his whims and eccentricities, but at the same time she suffered so much from him that with difficulty she preserved her health, and became to reduced and wasted, that she was a most pitiable object. She lived in a solitary house, alone, to satisfy him, and never went out except to attend mass, and then return as quickly as possible, for she would endure anything rather than give pain to others.


     Almighty God, seeing that this soul could be brought to great perfection, enabled her to support all this, without murmuring, in silence, and with the greatest patience. For the first few years she was kept in such subjection that she knew nothing of what was going on in the world; but, during the five following she sought to divert herself from the great vexations which her husband caused her, by associating with other ladies, and occupying herself with the affairs of the world as they did.


     But she was soon after called by the Lord, and left this way of life, never to return to it again; and, by the goodness of God, she was permitted to live with her husband, as a sister with a brother. Her husband became a member of the third order of St. Francis, and finally was visited by a severe illness, which he bore so impatiently that his wife became greatly distressed for the salvation of his soul. As his end approached, she withdrew into a retired apartment, and there, with tears and sobs, implored her sweet Love to save him, saying, "O Love, I beg of thee this soul: I pray thee give it to me, for thou canst do it." Persevering in this for the space of half an hour, an interior voice at length assured her that she was heard, and returning to her husband's chamber, she found him so calm and changed, that, by every word and act, he manifested his submission to the divine will.


     This miracle was made known by the blessed one herself to a spiritual child of hers after the death of her husband. "My son," said she, "Giuliano is gone: you know his eccentricity, which caused me so much suffering during his life, but before he passed away, my sweet Love assured me of his salvation." It was plain that God had caused her to say this, that the miracle might be made known; for, afterwards, Catherine seemed to regret that she had spoken on the subject, but the person being very prudent, made no remark and began to talk of other things. After her husband had passed away in holy peace, and was buried, her friends would say to her that she was relieved from great trials, and to human reason she indeed appeared to be released from great oppression, but she answered that she was not conscious of it, that all things were the same to her, and that she only cared to do the will of God.


     She also lost some of her brothers and sisters but so closely was she united with the sweet will of God, that she did not suffer any more than if they had not been her own kindred. And on account of this she could not understand why one of her companions of the same house of Fieschi as herself, and married as she was, should leave the world by degrees, for fear of turning back. After the death of her husband, this person became a nun in a convent of the Observantines of St. Dominic, called also St. Silvester; and twenty years after her profession, she was transferred to another convent of the same order, called the New Monastery, that she might reform it by introducing a stricter observance. She was called Sister Tommasa, was full of prudence and sanctity, and attained great perfection. She was superior of that monastery, and so burning was her zeal, that she was accustomed to write, compose, paint, and practice various devout exercises, in order to mitigate its violence. She wrote a treatise on the Apocalypse, and upon Dionysius the Areopagite, and other beautiful, devout, and edifying pieces. She painted with her own hand many holy countenances; the most remarkable is one of Piety, representing a certain very holy mystery, when the priest is consecrating at the altar. She wrought very delicately with her needle many pious subjects, among which is still seen in her first monastery, God the Father, surrounded by angels, with Christ and other figures of saints worked with great skill and dignity.


     Many things are told of this mother's devout life and exemplary conversation, so full of the fervor of divine love, by the nuns of her first and second convents, as well as by pious seculars who were her friends; also how happily she passed from this life praising the Lord. Her death took place in the year 1534, when she was more than 86 years of age. As we have mentioned, the blessed Catherine wondered how (when she was yet in the world) she could make such slow progress in contempt of the world; but she herself, on the other hand, said that Catherine, for so she called her, considered her desperate; and that it would be a dreadful mortification to her if she should turn back; Catherine was more surprised at this thought of turning back, and could not understand it. "If I should turn back," she said, "I should not only wish my eyes to be put out, but that every kind of punishment and insult should be inflicted on me."


     The wonderful designs of God are manifested in these two women, belonging to the same period, and both married; one of whom was converted by infused grace and at once made perfect, while the other arrived at perfection by virtue slowly acquired.
 

CHAPTER XXXVI

How a person, hopelessly ill, was cured by the prayers of the saint.


     A man named Marco dal Sale, who was suffering from a cancer of his nose, after trying every remedy that could be devised by the skill of physicians, and finding no relief, became almost desperately impatient. His wife Argentina, seeing his condition, went to the hospital where the holy Catherine lived, and begged her to visit her sick husband, and pray the Lord for him; and the saint, as if under obedience, complied.


     This blessed soul was so obedient, that if an ant had come to ask her to perform some act of mercy, she would at once have followed it. Catherine, having arrived at the house of the sick man, somewhat consoled him by a few humble and devout words. Returning afterwards to the hospital with Argentina, they entered a church called St. Mary of Grace, and there kneeling, Catherine was moved to pray for the sick man. Having finished her prayer, she returned with Argentina to the hospital, and when the latter had taken eave of her and gone home, she found her husband so changed, that from a demon he had almost become an angel, and, turning to Argentina, he exclaimed with joy and tenderness; "Oh! Argentina, tell me who is that holy soul whom you have brought here?" and Argentina answered: "It is Madonna Catherine Adorno, whose life is most perfect." The sick man then implored her, by the love of God, that she would bring her there again. The next day she complied with is request, and having related to St. Catherine what occurred, brought her home with her again.


     She knew, however, beforehand, the condition of this sick man, in the answer to her secret prayer; for she never made a special prayer except when interiorly moved to it by her Love, by which also she knew that it was favorably heard. When she entered the room the sick man saluted her, and continued weeping for some time, then said: "The reasons why I have asked you to come here again are, first, to thank you for your charity towards me, and then to ask of you one more favor, which I pray you not to deny me. After you left me, our Lord Jesus Christ himself appeared visibly to me, under the form in which he appeared to Magdalene in the garden, gave me his most holy blessing, pardoned my sins, and said that he appeared to me, because on Ascension Day I was to go to him; therefore, I pray you, most kind mother, that you may be pleased to accept Argentina as your spiritual daughter, retaining her always near you; and I pray you, Argentina, to consent to this." Both answered him joyfully that they were content. After Catherine had gone, the sick man sent for an Augustinian Father from a monastery called the Consolation, and having carefully made his confession and received communion, summoned a notary and his relatives, and arranged all his affairs, satisfying every one. They all thought that his sufferings had turned his head, and told him to be comforted, that he would soon recover and that there was no need of his attending to these things; but he was too wise to be influenced by their persuasions. The vigil of the Ascension having arrived, he sent again for his confessor, again made his confession, and received holy communion; then he received extreme unction with recommendation of the soul, all with great devotion, in preparation for his journey. Night coming on, he said to his confessor: "Return to your monastery, and when the time comes, I will send for you. Every one having gone, he was left alone with his wife, and turning towards her with the crucifix in his hand, said: "Argentina! I leave you this for your spouse, prepare to suffer, for I assure you that you will have to do so," which she indeed did, both mentally and from long continued bodily infirmity. He passed the night in exhorting and encouraging her to give herself entirely to God, to be willing to endure suffering, which is the ladder of ascent to heaven. When it was day, he said: "Argentina, God be with you, for the hour is come," and having uttered these words, he expired, and his spirit knocked at the window of his confessor's cell, crying: Ecce Homo; which when the confessor heard, he knew that Marco had passed to his Lord.


     After the burial of Marco, the blessed Catherine received Argentina as her spiritual daughter, according to her promise, and this by a divine dispensation, for, if she had not had such a spiritual child, she could not have lived in the state of abstraction in which she was often thrown by the burning fires of her sweet Love. As she loved this daughter of hers very much, she took her with her whenever she went out; and one day when they were passing the before-mentioned church, Our Lady of Grace, she entered, and after making her devotions, she said to Argentina: "This is the place where grace was obtained for your husband." The Lord permitted her to say this, that the miracle might be made known for our edification.
 

CHAPTER XXXVII

Continuing an account of her extraordinary way of life, and her wonderful condition for some time before her death.


     For nearly nine years before her death, the saint suffered from a malady not understood by physicians or by any one else. It was not a bodily infirmity; neither did it seem to her a spiritual operation; and it was very difficult on the part of those who attended her to know how to treat it. Medicine was of no avail, still less the support obtained from bodily sustenance; but at length a way was found to control it.


     She was greatly debilitated, so that at times she appeared to be near her end. For a year before her death she did not eat in a week what another would require for one meal, and for the last six months she only took a little broth, refusing everything else.


     She never omitted holy communion, except when absolutely unable to receive it, and in that case she suffered more from the deprivation than from all her infirmities: indeed, it seemed as if she could not live without this most holy sacrament. The vehemence of her spirit became at length so great that it shattered her bodily frame from head to foot; so that there was not a limb or nerve that was not tormented by her inward fires. She threw off blood and other s ubstances, so that it was thought that she retained nothing even of the very little she ate; and for the last two weeks she took nothing but the most holy communion. She could not sleep, her suffering was so intense, and her screams were dreadful.


     The burning interior and exterior flames prevented her from moving or being moved. Her sufferings banished from her all friends and spiritual persons who could offer her any relief, so that she remained in perfect interior and exterior solitude. And she suffered, too, in another way. Her humanity would sometimes crave food so extremely, that it would make any effort to obtain it; and when it was offered, the appetite was gone and she could not taste it, but remained patient in her hunger.


     She was so entirely abandoned to her sufferings, that she appeared as if transfixed to the cross, with no desire but for the blessed sacrament. On the other hand, she was so happy, and uttered such burning words of divine love, that all around her wept from emotion. Many persons came from a distance to see her, and speak with her, and recommended themselves to her, believing that they had been a creature more divine than human, as in truth she was. They beheld heaven in her soul, and purgatory in her agonized body.


     She saw the condition of the souls in purgatory in the mirror of her humanity and of her mind, and therefore spoke of it so clearly. She seemed to stand on a wall separating this life from the other, that she might relate in one what she saw suffered in the other.


     We are told of St. Ignatius, that after his martyrdom his heart was opened, and on it was found inscribed, in letters of gold, the sweet name of Jesus, and who can doubt that if the heart of this loving servant of God had been opened, some wonderful mark would have been found upon it. The burning flames within even changed the color of the flesh about her heart, and if fire was applied to her body, she did not feel it, so much more powerful was the interior flame. But there is this difference between material fire and the flames of divine love, that the one consumes and destroys, while the other sustains and strengthens.
 

CHAPTER XXXVIII

How the sufferings she was to endure were revealed to her in spirit; and how dreadful they were to her humanity.--Seeing an image of the woman of Samaria, she asked of God that water.--Of a difference that arose between the spirit and humanity, and of other wonderful things.


     Many graces were bestowed on this soul chosen of God, and many divine works were accomplished in her, during the year before she passed from this life to the Lord. And as things which take place suddenly cause greater terror, God revealed to her, at a glance, the order of his operations, and that she must die in great suffering, and made manifest to her this suffering, even her death. When humanity heard this she became almost frantic, and it seemed as if the soul must leave the body, for she could not utter a word.


     When this terrible picture was removed, this holy soul uttered words of such ardent and inflamed love, that all present trembled at them; and although they were not understood by them, yet they were filled with wonder at beholding such an effect. While the revelation was taking place, the soul remained as lifeless as the body, having no sensibility to anything spiritual, being like one dead. She could not speak of this spiritual sight, neither give any idea of it, but her gestures and motions appeared so wonderful as to strike with awe and astonishment every beholder.


     Her confessor was filled with dread at these things, considering the strict account to be rendered to God at the hour of death, when nothing is excused. What he beheld, remained impressed on his mind, and preyed upon it for many days.


     When the spirit was occupied intently with divine Love, and heeded not whether humanity lived or died, so long as the soul could remain with God, humanity expostulated, saying: "You cannot continue in this way, and live. God does not design that I should yet die; and, certainly, you would do nothing but by the divine will. As I must live, whether you will or not, you must quit this burning flame, and condescend to bear with me, so long as it may please God; although I am sure that at any rate you will make me suffer enough; for every day you are gaining power, and becoming more intent on accomplishing your purpose, and in the end you will surely conquer."


     When the spirit found itself obliged to yield somewhat to humanity, if it had not been restrained by a divine power, it would have reduced that body to dust, to obtain the liberty to be entirely occupied with itself; and the body, on its side, would rather have endured a thousand deaths than suffer so much from the oppression of the spirit; and in its distress it would often exclaim: "Oh, wretched that I am! to be engaged in so frightful a conflict;" then, addressing the spirit it would say: "I know that you cannot endure me, because I hold you bound on earth, in exile, and deprived of the fruition of the unbounded love of God; but I cannot sustain this fire of the love of God, rather would I endure any other torture than one day in its burning flames."


     The spirit gradually consumed the human part, and reduced it to such exterior and interior weakness that it could no longer complain or make any of its former demonstrations. And the blessed one could sometimes only utter such words as these: Love of God, Sweetness of God, Purity of God. At another time she would be continually repeating: Charity, union, and peace; and sometimes only one word: God, God. At last she said nothing, for all her powers were confined within. On one occasion her heart was kindled by so burning a flame of love, that she could not endure it, and turning to a picture of the Samaritan woman at the well, she cried out: "O Lord, I pray thee, give me a drop of that water which thou givest to the Samaritan," and instantly a drop of that divine water was given to her, which refreshed her more than human tongue can describe.


     Sometimes the conflict between humanity and the spirit was so great that the soul found herself, as it were, suspended in the air, drawn up by her intense desire to reach heaven, and yet attached to earth by her human and inferior part. At length the superior part so far conquered the inferior, that the latter became more and more detached from earth, and although at first this seemed strange to humanity, and she was discontented, yet she soon began to lose all attraction for earth, and to enjoy these things which the spiritual part enjoyed, till at length the attraction of the spirit so far prevailed, that the two became reconciled and were satisfied with the same food, although the human part did not entirely forget the earth; but she was ever receiving such tidings from heaven that she became constantly more firm, more persevering, more joyful and satisfied, so as by degrees to attain repose. This drawing of the spiritual part towards heaven was a means of purification, and the higher she ascended, the more she became detached from all things natural, awaiting the moment when she would leave the body at death, as the moment when she would leave purgatory for heaven; for God in his grace makes the body of some persons their purgatory.


     This holy soul continually suffered more and more from the favors of divine love; sometimes for five or six days she could hardly breathe, so great was the vehemence of this inward fire; and every attack was more violent than the last, obliging her to conceal herself from all creatures, to avoid their observation and wonder at her extraordinary condition. Her body trembled like a leaf during these attacks, although her soul was in perfect peace; sometimes even blood would flow from her nose, and she was so reduced that, for several days, her strength would not return, and it was only restored to prepare her for a fresh attack.
 

CHAPTER XXXIX

How the spirit deprived her of her confessor, who concealed himself where he could witness her peace of mind in the midst of these tortures.--She had visions of angels.--Of the experiments tried by various physicians.--Of one who had come from England.--Of further divine operations.


     On the 10th of January, 1510, during one of these attacks, all need of her confessor vanished from her mind, and she had no more desire to see him, either for the support and consolation of her body or her soul. She kept this thought secret for many hours, but expressed the contrary. This thought came from the spirit, who wished to deal with humanity without any intervention, and believed that the confessor, who thought she must do and say all she wished to do and say, might influence her too much, knowing, as she did, that all was by the ordinance of God.


     When the confessor was removed, humanity was left desolate upon the earth, and could hardly endure herself, consuming away and yet living, because it was not God's time for her to die. The confessor at one time concealed himself to watch the operations of God in this soul. She locked herself into her chamber, alone; and, in her agony poured out her lamentations to her Lord, exclaiming: "O Lord! what dost thou wish me to do in this world? All my interior and exterior senses are lost. I find nothing in myself like other creatures, but I am like one dead; no creature understands me. I am alone, unknown, poor, naked, strange, and opposed to all the world; neither do I know what the world is, and therefore I can no longer dwell with creatures on the earth." She uttered these and many such expressions so piteously, that they would have melted the stones with compassion. The confessor, who was concealed and heard them all, was so moved that he was obliged to discover himself, and drawing near, spoke to her (for God had given him the grace), in such a manner that she remained consoled in body and mind for many days.


     The sufferings of this blessed soul increased in violence, and her attacks became more frequent, and were sometimes too agonizing for human eyes to behold. She seemed writhing in flames of fire, and could not be kept upon her bed. Sometimes these tortures would continue for a day and night, without ceasing, and it seemed as if every moment must be her last. She lost sight and speech, but by signs asked that extreme unction might be given her, for she believed herself dying; but she lived to endure great sufferings, for through all that she had hitherto endured, she had remained in communication with God, and experienced great peace and interior joy in the midst of them; but now it was ordered that for a season she should be deprived of this divine communication, and should be left naked and desolate, with nothing to hold her to life but the conviction that this was the will of God concerning her. She would sometimes exclaim in her desolation: "It is now nearly thirty-five years, O my Lord, since I have asked anything of thee for myself; but now, most earnestly do I implore thee not to separate thyself from me. Thou well knowest, O Lord, that I could not endure it."


     She said this because, from the time she was first called by God, her mind had always been in union with him, and at peace, and hence the separation appeared dreadful to her; her soul became more resigned, but humanity more tortured, at every fresh attack. When she was able to speak, her words appeared flames of divine love, and so penetrated the hearts of those who heard them, that they were deeply moved, and filled with astonishment.


     On one occasion she had four excruciating attacks in one night. So great was the distress of her nerves, that from her head to her feet there was not a spot free from suffering; she cried aloud in her agony, and those around her implored God to have mercy on her, but she could find no relief, and yet she said, during a pause: "Tongue cannot tell, nor imagination conceive the peace of mind that I enjoy, but as to the human part, all the sufferings that man could inflict are nothing to the pains I endure; and in these operations the spirit and humanity are both watching to observe the doings of God. It is not the spirit, but humanity that cries out in agony."


     In the intervals of this suffering, her body appeared in health, and free from any feverish affection. She laughed and spoke like a person in health, and told others that they must not be troubled on her account, for she was happy, but that they must strive to do right, for the ways of God were very strait.


     She had at this time many visions of angels, and sometimes she was seen laughing with them. She smiled without speaking, and, as has been related, she beheld the joy of the angels, who consoled her and showed her the preparation for her future triumph. She also beheld the devils, but with little fear, for she was secure in her perfect union with God, which drives out all fear.


     About four months before her death, after all the attempts of numerous physicians for her relief, another, more extraordinary, was made. Several medical men were summoned, who examined this suffering creature, investigated all the symptoms of her malady, and afterward came to the conclusion that it was supernatural, and no remedy of medical science could reach it. This she had often said herself, and refused to take the medicines prescribed her. But when the physicians persevered in their prescriptions, she took them in spirit of obedience, although with great pain and injury to herself, until the physicians themselves came to the above mentioned conclusion.


     But there arrived from England a Genoese named Boerio, who had been for many years physician to the king of that country. He was surprised, when he heard of the fame of this holy lady, that she should speak of her infirmity as not natural and requiring no medical remedy. Hardly believing this report to be true, he obtained permission to visit her, and reproved her for the scandal she caused by rejecting medical aid, even accusing her of hypocrisy. To all this she humbly answered: "It grieves me much to be the cause of scandal to any one, and if any remedy can be found for my disease, I am ready to make use of it." The physician, availing himself of her consent and obedience, applied various remedies, but at the end of twenty days, finding herself no better, she told him that she had submitted to his treatment in order to remove all scandal from his eyes, and from the eyes of others, but now he must leave the care of her soul to herself. For it was thus that the Holy Spirit (who worked and spoke through her) wished to confound the too great confidence of physicians in their science. After this Boerio held her in great reverence, calling her mother, and often visited her.
 

CHAPTER XL

Of the many visions which the saint beheld in her last days.--Of her acute sufferings.--How she could taste nothing but the blessed sacrament, and suffered in herself the pains of the passion of our Lord.


     During the last days of her life, her acute sufferings still continuing, this blessed soul received impressions in accordance with the divine operations in the saint whose day was celebrated.


     On the evening of St. Lawrence's day her body appeared to her in flames like his, and on the following day God visited her by drawing her upwards, towards himself. She remained immovable for more than an hour, with her eyes fixed on the ceiling of her chamber. She did not speak, but often smiled in sign of her interior joy. On returning to herself she told those around, who questioned her, that the Lord had showed her one spark of the joys of eternal life, and that her joy was so great that she could not restrain her smiles, and repeated only these words: "Lord, do with me all that seemeth good to thee," which showed that the time was approaching when she was to pass from the fires of purgatory into that blessed life. Her sufferings were constantly increasing, followed by the sweetest consolation, until the vigil of the Assumption, when they became so great that all those around her believed her passing away to her Lord. When she was about receiving communion, she addressed many beautiful words to the holy sacrament, and to the persons present: words of burning love from the interior fire of her heart, so fervent and pious that every one wept with devotion.


     The following day and the succeeding night she passed in torture, and received extreme unction at her own request, with great elevation. The next day she was in a state of such spiritual joy, that it burst forth in her countenance, which was radiant with smiles, to the admiration of those who beheld it. When the vision had passed, she answered to their inquiries that she had seen some most beautiful countenances, beaming with joy, so that she could not contain her delight; but the impression remained with her for seven days, so that she appeared better. The cause was manifestly supernatural, the change from death to life taking place so suddenly, and then again her return continually to a worse condition, as she was drawing nearer to her end.


     An attack so severe followed this vision that she lost the use of her left hand and side, and a finger of the other hand. She lay speechless for several hours, with her eyes closed, and could not swallow, though the persons about her attempted to give her nourishment; but the divine work going on within her was to be accomplished without human aid.


     Her thirst was always so great that it seemed to her she could drink all the water of the sea, and yet she could not swallow the smallest drop, or take refreshment from any created thing. She would sometimes attempt to taste of fruit, but as soon as it touched her lips she rejected it.


     On the night of the vigil of St. Bartholomew, she had a demoniacal vision, which threw her into great distress of body and mind. Being unable to speak, she motioned to have the sign of the cross made on her heart, and blessed herself; and by this it was understood that she was suffering from a temptation of the devil. She made a sign that a surplice, stole, and holy water should be brought her; this being done, in half an hour she was relieved. Oh! how wretched are those sinners who are carelessly awaiting this terrible presence, and a torment as terrible, it being so dreadful where there is no sin!


     About the 25th of August, some liquid was offered her, which she took in obedience, but it caused her to scream from the distress it gave her. She afterwards fell into a state of great weakness, and asked to have the windows opened that she might see the sky. As night came on, she had a great many candles lighted, and then, as well as she could, she sang the Veni Creator Spiritus. When it was finished, she lay with her eyes upturned towards heaven, making signs, which led those about her to believe that she saw wonderful things.


     Her countenance was radiant with joy, and she seemed just about to breathe her last; but recovering herself, she repeated again and again: "Let us go;" adding, "no more earth, no more earth." When questioned as to what she had seen, she answered that she could not describe those things, but they were very pleasant.


     On the 27th of the same month, she seemed as if left without any life of her own, and resting with her spirit alone in God. She dismissed every one from her apartment, saying: "Let no one enter this room except those who are absolutely needed." She held no more conversation with creatures, except so far as necessity required, and when she had need of any service, she said only, "Do this in charity." This was contrary to her usual habit, for she was accustomed to speak always with entire confidence and frankness to every one; and always expressed great gratitude for any service done her. But at this time she could not look upon any service as done to herself, but only for the love of God. This state she continued in for two days.


     On the 28th of August, the feast of St. Augustine, her sufferings were very great, and for some months before her death, she appeared to suffer much more on feast days, especially on those of our Lady, and of the apostles and martyrs. Often she cried aloud in her agony; but her silent sufferings were the greatest, when her tongue and lips were so parched with the burning fire within that she could not move them or speak. At such times if any one touched a hair of her head, or even the edge of the bed or the bed clothes, she would scream as if she had been wounded.


     When she was unable to swallow the smallest morsel of food, or a drop of liquid, she could always receive holy communion; and sometimes when her confessor found her in such a state that he feared to give it to her, she would make a sign, with a joyful countenance, that she was not afraid, and often, on receiving her face was glowing and radiant with joy, like a seraph.


     Sometimes she extended her arms as if stretched on the cross, and it seemed as if the stigmata were interiorly impressed on her, although they did not appear outwardly. On one occasion fresh water was brought her to cool her hands, and after bathing the palms, it became boiling hot, so as to heat even the stand of the cup, which had a very long stem. She also suffered greatly at this time in her feet.


     As the burning fire within increased, her thoughts and imagination were filled with different sins, which she had never before thought of these, however, did not cause her any compunction but the remembrance of them gave her great pain. Her attendants, seeing her extreme weakness, and that she had not taken food for so long a time, on the 10th of the month of September assembled ten physicians, in order to ascertain if medical science could invent any remedy for her sufferings. After the most careful investigation of her case, they decided that her condition was produced wholly by supernatural causes, and was beyond the reach of medical skill, for all her bodily organs were in good order and showed no sign of infirmity; and they took their leave, lost in wonder and recommending themselves to her prayers.


     On the 12th, she again received holy communion, but took no food; she also made a will naming the place in which she wished to be buried; then she lay alternately like one dead, motionless and speechless, or groaning with the internal flames that were consuming her and which raged so fiercely that black blood flowed from her mouth. Her body was covered with black stripes. After these attacks she became more and more exhausted, and on one occasion, having her eyes raised to the ceiling and fixed, she made so many signs to those around that they inquired of her what she saw, and she answered, "Drive away that beast;" but they could understand nothing more.
 

CHAPTER XLL

In what manner, and at what time, she passed from this life to the Lord.--Many persons saw that blessed soul, under different forms, and in different ways, unite itself with God.--What happened to her confessor when he was celebrating the Mass of the Martyrs.


     At length, on the 14th of September she had so violent a bleeding that her body seemed deprived of every drop of moisture. All the blood remaining within had been dried up by the fire that was consuming her. Her pulse was hardly perceptible, but her mind was clear. During the night she talked freely, and received communion as usual, continuing in the same state until seven o'clock on the following evening.


     On Saturday night, as the morning of Sunday was approaching, she was asked if she wished to receive communion, to which she answered, "Not yet," when she found that it was not the usual hour. Then, raising the finger of her right hand to heaven, she wished, it would seem, to show that she was going to make her communion in heaven, there to unite herself wholly with her Love, and triumph with him forever; and, as hitherto she had been separated from all earthly things, seeing that her hour had now come, she knew that she should need no more communions on earth; and at that moment this blessed soul peacefully and gently expired, saying, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit," and took flight to her sweet and long-desired Love.


     After her death that yellow tint which before was only seen about the region of the heart, diffused itself over her whole body, which signified that the divine fire had gradually consumed her whole humanity, which was preserved alive in the flesh until every, even the last particle was consumed; and then, free from every pain, she went forth from this purgatory, beatified, to take her place, as we must believe, in the choir of the Seraphim. For so purified was she by the divine fire in this life, it would seem that the Lord must have exalted her to such a glorious elevation.


     This, her most happy transit, took place in the year 1510, on Saturday night, December 14th, as the hour of Sunday was approaching when she usually received communion. Among the persons present was one of her spiritual daughters, who saw the soul depart swiftly, and fly to God, without hindrance; and this sight gave her great consolation, and so much light, that she addressed those about her in words of burning love, exclaiming: "Oh! how narrow is the way by which we must pass, to arrive, without hindrance, at our home."


     Another spiritual daughter of the saint, who, by divine permission, was tormented by an evil spirit, suffered dreadfully at that hour, and the spirit being forced to declare the cause, said that he had seen that soul unite herself with God.


     Her faithful physician was asleep, and awoke as she departed, hearing a voice saying to him, "Rest in God, for I am now going to Paradise." At these words he called his wife, and told her that the Lady Catherine had died just at that moment, and it was found to be so.
     Another person, who was praying, saw at the same hour Catherine ascending to heaven on a white cloud, and being very spiritual and devout, he experienced such joy and consolation at the sight, that he was like one beside himself, and although at a distance, he was as certain of her death and glory as if he had been present.


     A holy, religious lady also saw her in her sleep, clothed in white, with a girdle about her waist. She told her companion that she had seen the soul of the blessed Catherine going to heaven, and in the morning, to her great joy, she found that it was so.


     Another religious was at that hour rapt in spirit, and saw Catherine so beautiful, joyful, and content, that she believed herself in Paradise. She called her by her name, and told her many things which prepared her to suffer for the love of God, and determined her to change her life, which she did; and she was after heard to speak of the comfort she received from the memory of that vision.


     It would be a long history to relate all the other persons who had the same vision, in various places, and under various circumstances. Her confessor had no notice of her death, on that night, nor the following: but the next day but one, happening to celebrate the mass for many martyrs, and not thinking, at the time, of that blessed soul, he had such a clear vision of her martyrdom, that he knew every word he uttered was appropriate to her sufferings; and his heart was so wounded with compassion and devotion, that he burst into tears, and was hardly able to continue the mass; but in the midst of his weeping he experienced great interior joy and satisfaction at the divine disposal and her repose.


     All present at that mass--and they were friends of the blessed Catherine--could not restrain their weeping, so that the confessor himself was overwhelmed with astonishment, and could, with difficulty, finish the service. After it was concluded, he retired, and indulged his tears to relieve the oppression of his heart. So clearly was the great suffering of that chosen soul revealed to his mind, that all he had seen of it with his bodily eyes and known by long experience, seemed as nothing to the reality, and if God had not helped him, he would have died of grief.
 

CHAPTER XLII

Of her burial, and how the body was preserved in the midst of great moisture and putrefaction.--How many prayers were granted by her intercession, and a person restored to health.--Of the order she gave to have her heart opened, which was not done.


     The body of this saint was interred in the principal hospital of the city of Genoa, in which, for many years, she had served the sick. It was first put in a beautiful wooden case, near the wall under which it was not noticed that an aqueduct passed. It remained there nearly a year, and when it was disinterred, the tow laid around the body was filled and covered with large worms that had been generated by the moisture produced by the water; but not one had touched the holy body, which was entire from head to foot, and the flesh dried rather than consumed.


     Crowds of people flocked to see this wonderful sight, so that it was found necessary to expose it for eight days. But as some depredations had been committed on it, it was enclosed in a chapel where it might be seen and not touched. It caused great surprise when the cloths that wrapped it, and even the wood of the coffin, were seen to be destroyed and spoiled, and the body uncorrupted and without a stain.


     Many were graciously heard who recommended themselves to her, and among others a friend of hers, who was sick, obtained the favor of restoration to health. Her infirmity confined her to her bed, but having had a vision of the happy state of the blessed soul, she directed that she should be carried into the church and placed near the body. On applying the cloths that were about it to the place where her pains were most severe, and commending herself to the saint, she was instantly cured, and returned to her house alone, without any assistance. For this great favor received, she caused a mass of our Lady to be offered at each anniversary, and another on the Festival of the Assumption, and left provision at her death that these masses should be perpetual.


     At present the blessed Catherine is held in great devotion, in consideration of her holy life, illuminated with such peculiar graces. She directed, some months before her death, that her body should be opened and the heart examined, to see if it were not wholly consumed by love, yet her friends did not venture to do it.


     That holy body was placed in a marble sepulcher, erected in the church of the hospital; but it was afterwards removed to a less conspicuous tomb, on account of the inconvenience caused by the number of persons coming to visit it.


     It remains for us to pray our most merciful Lord, that by the intercession of this blessed soul, he may bestow on us the abundance of his love, that we may all advance from virtue to virtue, and at length be united in eternal bliss with Him who liveth and reigneth eternally.
     
 

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