A few people attending our weekend masses have inquired about our remembering Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Lawrence and Saint Maria Goretti in the Eucharistic prayer. It has been particularly noticed since our faith communities have clustered. Both Father
Mike and I include these saints when presiding at mass.
Parishes often have what is referred to as "relics" that pertain to the Saint(s) their parish is named after. Relics are divided into three classifications. A first class relic is a body part of a saint, such as bone, blood, or flesh. Second class relics are possessions that a saint owned, and third class relics are objects that have been touched to a first or second class relic or the saint has touched him or herself.
I will begin with Saint Catherine of Siena. Our church in Mendon is named after her and she is the patroness. Saint Catherine of Siena was born on March 25, 1347. She was a twin and she and her sister were the 24th and 25th children born to her parents Giacoma and Lapa. Saint Catherine at a very early age was devoted to the Lord and privately dedicated herself with a vow to God. Her parents were not always in support of her dedication and had wanted her to marry. Saint Catherine was steadfast in her desires and her parents finally relented to her wishes. She became part of the religious order, a Third Order Dominican.
Saint Catherine's life is so full and rich. If you are interested in her life there are many books written about her. A few insights to her are that even though she was uneducated, had no official political or religious appointment, her faith never stopped her in speaking out. She was highly respected and had many disciples. Many called upon her for counsel in religious matters as well as political ones. She was the conscience of the church and even managed to have Pope Gregory XI return to Rome after being in Avignon.
Jesus appeared to Saint Catherine many times fostering her spirituality and love for Him. She received the stigmata (wounds of Jesus) in 1375. Saint Catherine died in Rome on April 29, 1380 at the age of thirty-three. Pope Paul VI proclaimed her a "Doctor of the Church" on October 4, 1970 because of her writings, particularly her book entitled, "The Dialogue". She and Saint Francis of Assisi are the patroness and patron of Italy.
Regarding a relic for Saint Catherine of Siena Church, they are in possession of a piece of clothing that belonged to her. This would be a second class relic.
The Church of the Transfiguration has two first class relics in their main altar. The relics are of Saint Lawrence and Saint Maria Goretti.
Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, lived (225 - 258) in a time when the Emperor Valerian wanted all bishops, priests and deacons to be put to death to end the growth of the early church. Saint Lawrence was willing to give his life for the sake of the church. Before his execution, he gave many of the church's belongings to poor widows and orphans. e even gave his own money. Saint Lawrence was burnt to death on a gridiron. It is reported, as the executioners slowly burnt his outstretched body, he said, "Let my body be turned; one side is broiled enough." His feast day is August 10th and has been kept since the fifth century.
Saint Maria Goretti , Virgin and Martyr, (1890 - 1902) of Italy is the patron saint of youth and young girls, and of rape victims and abused children because she chose martyrdom over submitting to sexual harassment and rape. Her deathbed forgiveness of the attacker who stabbed her led to his repentance and eventual life as a monk after his release from prison. Maria Goretti was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950. The man who assaulted her was at her canonization.
When the Church of the Transfiguration was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Matthew Clark on December 19, 1992, the relics of Saints Lawrence and Maria Goretti were sealed into the altar.
I hope this sharing has enlightened us to the relics in our churches and why we include these saints in our prayers.
May we continue to ask for their prayers and blessings upon us.