Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with the Saints: Catherine of Siena

Lent with the Saints

Ezekiel 37:21–28; Jeremiah 31:10, 11–12abcd, 13; John 11:45–57

The prophet Ezekiel proclaims that the Lord will bring the Israelites back from exile and return them to their own land. Catherine of Siena may have meditated on that prophetic word, from our First Reading, as she struggled to reform the church in the fourteenth century.

Catherine was a Third Order Dominican known for her prayer, her severe ascetical practices, and her learning. Out of her periods of contemplation, she reached out in spiritual letters to enlighten and instruct others. Such activity for a woman drew suspicion and slander; Catherine was investigated and cleared of any charges of heresy.

Soon her fame spread and drew papal notice. She became a reformer and worked for unity between the papacy and civil powers. With the pope in exile, living at Avignon, France, Catherine labored to return the papacy to Rome and accomplished that goal in 1377. Her struggle for unity was severely tested during the Great Schism beginning in 1378, when contenders for the papacy each claimed Peter’s chair (eventually there were three papal claimants).

Today’s Gospel lays out the plotting against Jesus that will lead to his passion and death. The text reveals the political concerns that occupy the high priests. Catherine understood well the realities of the world but used her spirituality, intelligence, and skills as a writer and reconciler to assist the church in her time.

Today’s Action

Use today’s news headlines as a springboard for meditation.


God, who brings back the exiles,
call us to our true home in the midst of your church,
where we can celebrate your love.

Sisterhood of Saints | Franciscan Media

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