Saint of the Day – 5 April – Saint Catherine of Palma OSA (1533–1574) Nun of the Order of the Canonesses of St Augustine, Mystic, gifted with the charism of prophecy, visions and ecstasy. Born on 1 May 1533 at Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain and died on 5 April 1574 at Saint Mary Magdalen convent, Palma, Mallorca, Spain of natural causes, at the aged of 41. She is also known as Catalina Thomás, Caterina Tomàs i Gallard, and Catherine or Catalina Thomas or Tomas. Patronage – Mallorca. Her Body is incorrupt.
Catherine was born 1 May 1533 at Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain, in a peasant family. Catherine was the youngest of 7 children. Her parents died when she was 7, leaving her without an inheritance or a dowry. She spent her remaining formative years in the home of her paternal uncle. Even though she was very young, she was made to do the worst tasks. The servants were even encouraged to overwork and ignore her. Even so, she remained ever sweet and patient.
At age 15, she began having visions of St Anthony and St Catherine, her patroness. It was then that she began to feel a calling to the Religious life. She confided these desires to a holy hermit Priest, Father Antony Castagneda. Believing that Catherine needed time to discern if this was really her vocation, he told her that she would receive a reply in time, if she continued to pray about it, as he would also do. She agreed without question or argument.
She had to wait a long time. The wait was made even more frustrating by the treatment she endured at the hands of her relations, who increased their mistreatment of her, because they feared losing her services. Father Antony hadn’t forgotten her though. He was finding it very hard to find a Convent that could afford to take a girl with no dowry. As a preliminary step to entering a Convent, he sent Catherine to serve a family in Palma, where nothing could stand in the way of her spiritual life. One of the daughters in the household taught her reading and writing. This girl soon became Catherine’s disciple in religious matters, since Catherine had already come very far on the road to holiness.
Soon, several Convents offered to take her. She decided to enter the Canonesses of St Augustine, at their Convent of St Mary Magdalen in Palma, Mallorca. She was 20 years old at that time. From the moment she was admitted, she was admired by the other sisters, because of her sanctity and loved because of her humility and her willingness to serve others.
The life of Catherine, in the Convent, was ordinary at first and there was nothing to distinguish her. Then, strange things began to happen to her. Every year, between 13 and 15 days before the Feast of St Catherine of Alexandria, she would lie in a profound trance. Also, after communion, she would always remain in ecstasy, which would last most of the day, or sometimes a whole week. There were times when she appeared to be in a coma, with no signs of life, for days but at other times, she would move around the Convent with her feet together and her eyes closed, sometimes conversing with Angels and other heavenly beings and oblivious to everything and everyone around her.
At other times she would intelligently answer questions, while in one of these “Comas.” She also had the gift of prophesy. In between these events, she would be severely attacked and tempted by demons. she not only suffered evil suggestions and hallucinations, and physical manifestations of demons but, she also suffered physical assaults at their hands. When this happened, frightening screams and sounds could be heard coming from Catherine’s cell. The other nuns could never see what was attacking her but they could see what the attacks left in their wake and they would try to relieve her suffering. She tried very hard not to let these experiences get in the way of the timely discharge of her work. She foretold her own death, and died at age 41 on 5 April 1574.