St Catherine de Ricci healing oil
St Catherine de Ricci, O.S.D. was an Italian Dominican Tertiary sister. She is believed to have had miraculous visions and corporeal encounters with Jesus. Also, Catherine is said to have spontaneously bled with the wounds of the crucified Christ. She is venerated for her mystic visions and is honoured as a saint by the Catholic Church.
At age 6 or 7, her father enrolled her in a school run by Benedictine nuns. Her aunt, Luisa de’ Ricci, was the abbess. By nature, she was a very prayerful person from a very young age. There she developed a lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. After a short time outside the monastery, she entered the Convent of St Vincent in Prato. This was a cloistered community of religious sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic. In May 1535 she received the religious habit from her uncle, Friar Timoteo de’ Ricci, O.P.. He was confessor to the convent. She took the religious name of Catherine, after Catherine of Siena.
A time of trial
De’ Ricci’s period of novitiate was a time of trial. She would experience ecstasies during her routine. This caused her to seem asleep during community prayer services. Also, she dropped plates and food. The community began to question her competence… Eventually, the other Sisters became aware of the spiritual basis for her behaviour. Subsequently, by the age of 30, she had risen to the post of prioress.
She is reported to have been a nun with visions, states Constance Classen. She miraculously held baby Jesus dressed in swaddling clothes. Also, she was mystically married and united with adult Jesus.
As the prioress, De’ Ricci developed into an effective and greatly admired administrator. She was an advisor on various topics to princes, bishops, and cardinals. She corresponded with three figures who were destined to become popes. Her advice was widely sought. She gave counsel both in person and through exchanging letters. She was extremely effective and efficient in her work.
Passion of Christ
De’ Ricci’s meditation on the Passion of Christ was so deep that she spontaneously bled. It was as if scourged. She also bore the Stigmata. In deep prayer, a ring representing her marriage to Christ appeared on her finger.
It is reported that De’ Ricci wore an iron chain around her neck. She engaged in extreme fasting. She engaged in many forms of penance and sacrifice. Also, Catherine had a great devotion for souls in Purgatory.
One of the miracles for her canonization was her appearance many hundreds of miles away. It was bilocation from where she was physically located. This involved appearing in a vision with St Philip Neri, a resident of Rome. She had maintained a long-term correspondence with him. Neri confirmed the event.
De’ Ricci lived in the convent until her death in 1590 after a prolonged illness.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is 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 is an important way for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.