Franciscan Saints




6thJanuary

The Servant of God Catherine, Queen Of England

Widow, Third Order

 

Catharine was the daughter of King Ferdinand V of Spain and of his spouse Isabella. Raised in piety and in awe of the Lord, she was married as early as sixteen year to Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII of England. Within five months of their marriage Arthur died, and Catharine wanted to return to her native country. But King Henry, who had taken a great fancy to her, pleaded with her to remain in England in order to become the wife of his second son, Henry. Since this was also in agreement with her parents’ wishes, Catharine assented, and the papal dispensation for the marriage was requested.

In the meantime King Henry died, and his son ascended the throne as King Henry VIII shortly thereafter he celebrated his marriage with Catharine, who was then crowned with great pomp as queen of England. But her heart found as little happiness in worldly pride as that of the virtuous Queen Esther.

Catharine always arose early, dressed herself as simply as her rank allowed, and wore the penitential garb of the Third Order of St. Francis which she had joined some time previously. She attended holy Mass and spent several hours in prayer. Weekly she received the holy sacraments, and fasted so rigorously, that on the vigils of the feasts of our Lady, she consumed only bread and water. Nevertheless, Catharine did not neglect the care of her five children.

But King Henry did not share in his wife’s devotions; rather, he gave himself fully to all the pleasures of a luxurious life at court, and even conceived an adulterous affection for a young lady at court, her name was Anne Boleyn. This affair caused the greatest sufferings for Catharine. Because encouraged by Godless courtiers, Henry now nurtured a dislike for his devout queen. He began claiming that his marriage with Catharine was null and void because the dispensation had not been validly issued. His wanted to marry Anne Boleyn. After carefully investigating the matter, Pope Clement VII declared the marriage of the king with Catharine valid and insoluble. Next King Henry VIII renounced his allegiance to the Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the Church in England; priests and people who were unwilling to admit his authority were executed or sent into exile.

The virtuous queen, who did not consent to the Godless plans of her spouse, was divorced, and Henry married Anne Boleyn. Separated from her children and laughed at by her courtiers, Catharine went into seclusion, where she sometimes did not get enough to eat or drink. Her bitterest privation because of King Henry’s persecution of the priests she did not even have the comfort of the holy sacraments. Though crushed with grief, Catharine, nevertheless, bore it all with the most perfect submission to the will of God until her blessed death on January 6, 1536.

 

Habig, Marion, A., OFM, 1959, ed.,  The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

Prayer

Lord Our God, Your servant, Good Queen Katharine, was ever steadfast in her faith

 to her marriage and to your Son’s Church; bravely enduring unkindness and betrayal,

yet never betraying her faith by succumbing to the false promises made by those

who abandoned her.  Dear Lord, teach us the way of her faith.

Through her intercession, grant us the grace to follow

 the example of her faith, courage, piety, kindness and compassion.

 Amen.

Prayer:

GREGORY NASSIF ST. JOHN , Katharine Of Aragon, The Official Website For Her Cause, Wordpress,©2012, Accessed 1 December 2012,<at//katharineofaragon.com/wordpress/>

 

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