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CHAPTER XXXIII

How an evil spirit, that had possession of one of her spiritual daughters, named her Catherine Serafina.

This holy soul had, in the house with her, a spiritual daughter who was tormented by the devil, who frequently attacked her, even throwing her upon the ground, and by this violence driving her almost to desperation. This evil spirit even entered into her mind, and prevented her from thinking of divine things, so that it seemed to her that she was separated from God, and lost. She was beside herself, and fell so entirely under his diabolical will, that she became almost a demon herself. She was insupportable to herself, and found no peace except in the presence of her spiritual mother; for when they were together, at a glance they understood each other, one having the spirit of God, and the other its opposite.

One day this afflicted creature, vexed by the unclean spirit, knelt at the feet of the blessed Catherine, in the presence of their confessor; and the devil through her said: “We are both slaves by reason of that pure love that thou hast in thy heart.” and then, enraged with himself for having uttered these words, cast her upon the ground, winding about like a serpent. When she had risen from the ground, the confessor said: “What is the name of this woman, tell me,” and the evil spirit answered: Catherine, and would say no more. Then the confessor said: “Tell me her surname, is it Adorno or Fieschi?” and he would not answer; but the confessor insisted, and he at length said: Catherine Serafina, but he uttered these words struggling with great agony.

This afflicted being possessed a powerful intellect, and she lived in virginity. The Lord, perhaps, sent this affliction upon her to keep her humble. She died a holy death, but the evil spirit never left her until the very last moment.

The blessed Catherine, while reflecting on the opposition between pure love and the evil spirit, was accustomed to say that man did not consider the difference, and did not appreciate extreme love as he ought, “For truly,” she added, “he who does not know precious stones, does not value them.”

And, filled with compassion for the blindness of man, she said: “If by taking my blood and giving it to man to drink, I could make known to him this truth, I would give it all for love of him. I cannot endure the thought that man, created for the good that I see and know, should lose it

Catherine persevered in this way for about twenty-five years, instructed and directed by God alone, by a wonderful, divine operation. Afterwards, perhaps on account of the approach of old age and her extreme weakness, the Lord sent a director who took charge of her soul and of her bodily health; a spiritual person of holy life, in every way fitted for such a charge, to whom God gave the light and grace to know his designs in regard to her. He was chosen rector of the hospital where she lived, he heard her confessions, said mass for her, and gave her communion, whenever he could do so.

This priest, at the request of some spiritual persons who were devoted to the saint, wrote most of the present work, having urged and induced her to relate the extraordinary graces which God had conferred upon her, especially as this religious, by long intercourse, well understood the order of her life. The first time that she made her confession to him, she said: “Father, I know not where I am, as to my soul or my body. I wish to confess, but I do not see any offence that I have committed.” And the faults that she enumerated did not seem to her sins of thought, word, or deed; for she was like a child who, when in his childishness he ignorantly does something which he is told is wrong, suddenly changes color, and blushes, but not because he is sensible to the fault.

She sometimes said to her confessor: “I do not know how to make my confession, for I have not enough exterior or interior feeling to be able to accuse myself of having said those things on account of which I feel some stings of conscience. I would not fail to make my confession, and I do not know whom I am to accuse of my sins; I would accuse myself, but I cannot.”

When God was effecting anything within her that troubled her, she submitted it entirely to her confessor, and conferred with him; and he, by the divine light and grace, understood the whole, giving her such replies that he seemed to feel what she felt. This was a great consolation to her, so that she spoke to him with entire confidence, and could not be satisfied until she had discovered to him all she felt. When she was prevented from communicating to him anything that was upon her mind, she felt as if in burning flames, but after she had spoken of it to her father, she was tranquil and satisfied.

It was a great consolation to her that he could understand her by a glance, when she could not speak, allaying the violence of the burning fire within, and strengthening her exhausted frame. The interior action was so intense that it became necessary to divert her mind by external things, and that diversion was torture to her, for it did violence to her heart. At one time, having been in a weak state for several days, she took the hand of her confessor and raised it to her face, and the odor of it penetrated her heart with such a fulness of exterior and interior sweetness that it seemed supernatural.

The confessor asking her what was the nature of that odor, she answered that it was an odor that God had sent to comfort the soul and body in their sufferings; that it was so penetrating and sweet that it seemed as if it could bring the dead to life, and she added: “Since God grants it to me, I shall console myself with it so long as it pleases him.” The confessor, believing that as it was given through him he too could perceive it, raised his own hand to smell the fragrance of it, but there was none there, and it was told him that God does not give his good things to those who seek them, but only bestows them in cases of necessity, and for some great spiritual result.

The saint also said that she was permitted to see that this odor was a drop of the beatitude that the body with its senses will enjoy in heaven, through the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; by which every one will be satisfied eternally in body as well as soul. Her body and soul were strengthened and refreshed for several days by the impression and remembrance of this odor.

On one occasion she said to her confessor, who was sometimes absent from her: “It seems to me that God has given you the care of me alone, and that you ought not to attend to any one else; for I have persevered during the twenty-five years in the spiritual life without the help of any creature, but now that I cannot endure such interior and exterior conflicts, God has sent you to me. If you know how terribly I suffer when you are absent, you would rather remain with me in my trials, than go in search of any recreation; and yet I would not ask you not to go.”

And indeed it appeared as if every remedy and relief that God allowed to her soul and body was given her by this confessor, who, at the moment provided her with thoughts and words, which were suited to her necessities, so that he was amazed at them himself, and when the occasion for them was past, no remembrance of them remained.

And because this continual intercourse and close familiarity roused some to murmur who did not understand the necessity for them, the confessor withdrew and was absent for three days, to ascertain whether this necessity was wholly divine without any human mixture, and to relieve himself from every scruple; but he repented making the trial, on account of the severe sufferings of the saint. Moreover, he was in secret reproved by God for his incredulity, when he had been so long a witness to so many supernatural signs, one of which would have been sufficient to convert a Jew; and after this his scruples never returned.

The saint continued for many years in this state of dependence on her confessor, and by the grace of God, through all his attendance upon her, in his fatigues and trials, his health never failed. When she concealed from him any interior operation, it was intimated to him by some divine inspiration, and he would say to her: “You have such and such a thing on your mind, and you wish to deny it to me, but God will not permit you.” At these words she was greatly surprised, and acknowledged that they were true, and afterwards was freed from her sufferings. Sometimes she would say to her confessor: “What do you think is in my mind?” and although he knew nothing of it, yet at that moment words were given him, and he told her the whole.

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