St Catherine of Sweded healing oil
The St Catherine of Sweden healing oil is dedicated to St Catherine of Sweden from the 14th century. Her mother was St Brigid.
At the age of twelve or thirteen she married Lord Eggert van Kyren, He was a very religious young nobleman of German descent. Catherine persuaded him to take a vow of absolute chastity. They both lived in a state of virginity. She accompanied her mother to Rome in 1349. Upon arrival she was told news of her husband’s death. Catherine is said to have written a devotional work entitled Consolation of the Soul. A dated copy from 1407 is still in existence.
Catherine joins the convent
She stayed on with her mother. Also, she accompanied her on several journeys. They visited the Holy Land. At the death of Bridget, Catherine returned to Sweden with her mother’s body. St Brigid was buried at the great monastery of Vadstena Abbey. Catherine became head of the Brigittine convent at Vadstena, Her mother had founded the convent. Catherine took on the task of forming the community in the rule her mother had written. Also, she directed the Order of the Holy Savior, or Bridgettines. After some years, she returned to Rome to work for her mother’s canonization. She stayed there five years and formed a close friendship with Catherine of Sienna.
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII gave permission for Catherine’s veneration as a saint. Her feast assigned to 22 March in the Roman martyrology. St. Catherine is generally represented with a red deer at her side. This is said to have come to her aid “when unchaste youths sought to ensnare her”.
In 1488, Pope Innocent VIII gave permission for the translation of her relics in Vadstena. The formal beatification and canonization process, which also documented the required miracles, was never completed because of the Protestant Reformation.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they asked to pray to whomever the oil dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.