Catherine de' Ricci, St.
CATHERINE DE' RICCI, ST.
Dominican contemplative of the Counter Reformation; b. Florence, Italy, April 23, 1522; d. Prato, Feb. 2,1590. She was a child of patrician lineage and spiritually formed by her aunt, a Benedictine abbess, but she entered the Dominican convent of San Vincenzio, Prato, founded 1503 in the spirit of savonarola's reform. At age 14 she was professed, taking her deceased mother's name. From the first she endured physical afflictions and spiritual raptures that her sisters doubted until they were won over by her humility and holiness. During Holy Week of 1542 her ecstasies began; thereafter for 12 years from Thursday noon to Friday at 4 p.m. she relived Christ's Passion. Among her other supernatural gifts were mystical visits with St. Philip Neri and St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, neither of whom she had met. She led an uncommonly effective life, advising bishops, cardinals, generals of orders, and three future popes; directing disciples in person and in letters of great charm; looking after the poor and distressed; and, as prioress (1560–90), administering the convent with wisdom and energy. Her spirituality was that of Savonarola, softened by her optimism and compassion; she promoted frequent Confession and Communion, and a spirit of joy, peace, and energetic action (gagliardo combattimento ). She composed a lauda in honor of Savonarola and a Bible-based canticle of the Passion, Amici mei, used in the Dominican Liturgy of Good Friday. The promotor fidei in the process of her beatification was Cardinal Prospero Lambertini (later Benedict XIV), who afterward made frequent reference to her in his classic De servorum Dei beatificatione. Her iconography includes a death mask made by her brother, a portrait probably by Naldini (c. 1570), and an unfinished sketch of her miraculous crucifix by H. Besson, OP.
Feast: Feb. 13.
Bibliography: Le lettere di S. Caterina de' Ricci, ed. a. gherardi (Florence 1890). Lettere inedite di S. Caterina de' Ricci, ed. s. pardi (Florence 1912). Compendio della vita della beata Caterina de' Ricci: Estratto da' processi fatti per la sua beatificazione (Florence 1733). s. razzi, La vita della reverenda serva di Dio, la Madre Suor Caterina de' Ricci (Lucca 1594). f. m. capes, St. Catherine de' Ricci (London 1905). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 1:328–331. g. di agresti, S. Caterina de' Ricci: Fonti (Florence 1963).
[m. e. evans]