By David Kerr
.- An Oct. 27-29 conference in Rome and Siena will honor Saint Catherine of Siena, 550 years after her canonization.
Fr. Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, explained in a Vatican press conference that “the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value” for the Church today.
In his Oct. 21 announcement, Fr. Ardura said the study of St. Catherine “serves to remind us of the unshakeable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians.”
Her example is especially important, he said, as the Church prepares for the 2012-2013 “Year of Faith” announced Oct. 16.
The conference entitled “Virgo digna Coelo” (Virgin Worthy of Heaven) will study the 14th century Dominican philosopher and theologian's life, work and legacy. The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences has arranged it along with the Archdiocese of Siena and the Dominican Order.
Fr. Ardura explained that the conference will hold four sessions to allow “a deeper examination of the saint and her influence.” Most of the meetings will take place in Rome, but delegates will also travel 120 miles north to the saint’s hometown for the opening of a new exhibition about her.
Born into a middle-class Tuscan family in 1347, Caterina Benincasa received her first vision of Christ around age six. She later recalled that Jesus smiled at her, blessed her and left her in ecstasy...