|Nice wimple, huh?|
Father: Hey, I've got an idea. How about working for your brother as a barista instead?
Zoe: Sure, Dad. Why didn't I think of that?
Can anyone imagine that working? I suppose it was just the first thing he could think of in a desperate moment, but sending his daughter to work in her brother's Paris cafe so she'd lose interest in taking the veil is about the worst gambit conceivable. Of course, it was less than two decades after Napoleon (May his dust be scattered on the four winds! Pah!) subordinated the Church to his temporal ambitions after the Jacobins (May their graves be drenched with the urine of ten thousand dogs!) launched a persecution worthy of Imperial Rome. I suppose that jerking espresso all day for intellectuals in black berets looked like a good career move when compared to joining an organization that was still rebuilding after twenty years of official state hostility.
Zoe tried the coffee thing, but she must not have been very good at it because the family relented in 1830 and allowed her to join the Sisters of Charity, among whom she took the name Catherine.
Catherine may have been eager to live and die in obscurity, but she had a series of holy visions which secured her place in the canon. Unlike other visionary saints, she was not an hysterical personality. On the contrary, the words "matter of fact and unexcitable," "cold and apathetic," and "insignificant" were applied to her by her superiors in the convent. Insignificant. Harsh, right?
One of Catherine's visions was of the BVM, who stood on a globe with light radiant from her. As the image turned, Catherine saw a large M with a cross and two hearts: one was crowned with thorns and the other pierced with a sword. The BVM instructed Catherine to have this image struck on a medal with the words, "Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." She told her confessor, who told the bishop, who ordered a print run of 1500. I'll pay $150 for an original right now. I have no idea what they sell for, but I'm offering $150. Paul Burns, who edited an edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints, was given one by an elderly aunt just before he shipped out for Korea. The cease-fire was signed before he got there. That's some powerful juju.