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CHAPTER XLII

Of her burial, and how the body was preserved in the midst of great moisture and putrefaction.—How many prayers were granted by her intercession, and a person restored to health.—Of the order she gave to have her heart opened, which was not done.

The body of this saint was interred in the principal hospital of the city of Genoa, in which, for many years, she had served the sick. It was first put in a beautiful wooden case, near the wall under which it was not noticed that an aqueduct passed. It remained there nearly a year, and when it was disinterred, the tow laid around the body was filled and covered with large worms that had been generated by the moisture produced by the water; but not one had touched the holy body, which was entire from head to foot, and the flesh dried rather than consumed.

Crowds of people flocked to see this wonderful sight, so that it was found necessary to expose it for eight days. But as some depredations had been committed on it, it was enclosed in a chapel where it might be seen and not touched. It caused great surprise when the cloths that wrapped it, and even the wood of the coffin, were seen to be destroyed and spoiled, and the body uncorrupted and without a stain.

Many were graciously heard who recommended themselves to her, and among others a friend of hers, who was sick, obtained the favor of restoration to health. Her infirmity confined her to her bed, but having had a vision of the happy state of the blessed soul, she directed that she should be carried into the church and placed near the body. On applying the cloths that were about it to the place where her pains were most severe, and commending herself to the saint, she was instantly cured, and returned to her house alone, without any assistance. For this great favor received, she caused a mass of our Lady to be offered at each anniversary, and another on the Festival of the Assumption, and left provision at her death that these masses should be perpetual.

At present the blessed Catherine is held in great devotion, in consideration of her holy life, illuminated with such peculiar graces. She directed, some months before her death, that her body should be opened and the heart examined, to see if it were not wholly consumed by love, yet her friends did not venture to do it.

That holy body was placed in a marble sepulcher, erected in the church of the hospital; but it was afterwards removed to a less conspicuous tomb, on account of the inconvenience caused by the number of persons coming to visit it.

It remains for us to pray our most merciful Lord, that by the intercession of this blessed soul, he may bestow on us the abundance of his love, that we may all advance from virtue to virtue, and at length be united in eternal bliss with Him who liveth and reigneth eternally.

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