A group of Dominican sisters are praying for the future happiness of Prince William and Catherine Middleton marrying on the day that is traditionally set aside to celebrate the feast day of St Catherine of Siena.
St Catherine of Siena was born in 1347, the 24th of 25 children of a wool dyer in northern Italy. She became a lay member of the Dominican Order in the Roman Catholic Church when she was 16 and so is a very special saint to Dominicans today. St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day and persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon, in 1377. She died in 1380 at the age of 33 having received the stigmata* in 1375. Her body was found incorrupt in 1430. 29th April is the day that the Catholic Church traditionally observes her feast day. This year the day falls in Easter week when the Church celebrates the Resurrection of Christ.
His Eminence, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (England and Wales), was assigned the titular church of the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva when he was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001. The Basilica houses the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena. His Eminence, who will be attending the wedding, said ahead of the big day:
‘It is beautiful that they are being married on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine was a Dominican Tertiary and a bold and wonderful saint. She is buried under the altar of the Dominican Church of
St. Catherine’s letters, and a treatise called ‘The Dialogue’ are considered to be among some of the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. Cambridge based Sr Ann Catherine Swailes, who is a member of the Dominican Sisters of the English Congregation of Saint Catherine of Siena, shared:
‘St Catherine of Siena is so important to us as a religious community. I hope that many people will join us in praying for the happy couple and we will be calling on St Catherine in heaven for her prayers. We will be praying for all married couples that in their beautiful vocation, in their love for each other, they will have hearts that are big, hearts that are full of love and compassion for all.’
Rt Rev John Hine, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life, said: ‘I would like to congratulate the Royal couple on their marriage, and I am sure they will be in the minds and prayers of Catholic church congregations around England and Wales on their great day. It is only right that we should strongly support them in prayer since marriage is such an intimate and personal journey and yet we expect our Royalty to have a life-long high profile in the media. We pray that they may always put their relationship first, and, out of the strength their relationship gives them, may they become wonderful parents.’
Bishop John Hine, Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life, is available for interview.
If you would like to interview a Dominican sister about the feast day three are available as below:
Photo Sr Ann Catherine Swailes, entered the Dominican order in 2003. She lives with three other sisters in Cambridge, at the Convent of St Catherine of Siena and works at Cambridge University Catholic Chaplaincy.
Sr Anna Mary House was born in 1931 and has been a Dominican sister for 50 years. She was the Prioress General of the English Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena between 1983-1995. She now lives with three other sisters at the Convent of St Catherine of Siena, Cambridge, and is the Roman Catholic member of the multi-faith chaplaincy team at Cambridge Regional College.
Sr Michelle Hawkes entered the Dominican Order in 1988, she lives with eight other sisters in Lymington, Hampshire at St Dominic’s Priory where she is currently the Prioress.
To arrange interviews please contact the Home Mission Desk (Catholic Communications Network) tel. 020 7901 4818, email: Clare.Ward@cbcew.org.uk Alternatively tel. 020 7901 4800. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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What will Catholics be celebrating on 29 April?
For Catholics Easter Sunday is the high point of the year. In the week following Easter Sunday the Church continues to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Such is the importance that the Church places on these days that if a saint’s feast day falls in this week, it is transferred to the next available day in the liturgical calendar, in this case on Tuesday 3rd May. Catholics going to Mass on the 29th April will celebrate Easter Friday and the Bishops have invited them to especially pray for the Royal couple.
Marriage and Family Life Project Office, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: Celebrating Family: Blessed, Broken, Living Love is the Catholic Bishops’ strategy for supporting marriage and family life based on what families said they needed and hoped for from their church. See: www.celebratingfamily.org. ; also see www.catholicmarriage.org.uk
National Office for Vocation, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: www.ukvocation.org
The National Office for Vocation produces resources every year to celebrate the diverse vocations in the Church. This year, the office has produced schools resources, celebrating the vocation to marriage and also the vocation to religious life. These can be downloaded from www.ukvocation.org
Home Mission Desk, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: The Desk is resourced by the Home Mission Advisor who serves as a point of reference for evangelisation in England and Wales. The Advisor works as a member of the Catholic Communications Network to support engagement with the media.
Twitter – for those wanting to learn more about St Catherine, 28 year old Sister Sadora Bloom, who is a Dominican Sister of St Joseph in Lymington (Hampshire), will be tweeting daily for the two weeks following the Royal wedding. Working in partnership with the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, posts will be available for daily viewing and Sr Sadora will offer highlights of her day in the convent and inspirational quotes from the writings of St Catherine; http://twitter.com/#!/SrSadoraBloom>
The Dominican Order is also called the Order of Preachers, and was founded by Saint Dominic eight centuries ago for the purpose of studying, preaching, and teaching sacred truth. It consists of friars, brothers, nuns, sisters, and laity. More information can be found at: http://english.op.org/Welcome.html>
Also see the website of the Dominican Sisters of the English Congregation of St Catherine of Siena: http://www.stone-dominicans.org.uk/Welcome.html> and Dominican Sisters of St Joseph: http://www.dominicansrs.co.uk/> . For information about other Dominican communities see: http://www.corew.org/>
*Stigmata are the visible marks, wounds or sensations of pain in places on the human body that correspond to the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ; e.g. in the hands and feet. In the history of the Church some holy men and women have experienced the stigmata, though these are few in number.