Following his catechesis at the General Audience, Pope Francis noted that today the Church celebrates the feast of St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Italy and of Europe. As he had done earlier at the daily Mass, he prayed to St Catherine for protection during the pandemic, and for the unity of Europe.
In his greetings in various languages at the end of the General Audience, Pope Francis recalled once again – as he had done earlier at his daily Mass – that Wednesday is the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church and one of the patrons of Italy and of Europe.
Saint Catherine, protector of Italy and of Europe
The Holy Father noted that, although Catherine was unable to read or write, this “courageous young woman” did not hesitate to appeal to civil and religious leaders. She called them to action and at times even rebuked them. Pope Francis mentioned in particular her work to bring peace to Italy, and to call for the Pope’s return to Rome from Avignon.
“May her example help everyone understand how to be united, with Christian consistency, an intense love for the Church with an effective solicitude for the civil community, especially in this time of trial,” the Pope said. “I ask St Catherine to protect Italy during this pandemic, and to protect Europe, because she is the Patroness of Europe; to protect the whole of Europe so that it may remain united.”
Saint Joseph, patron of workers
Pope Francis also noted the upcoming feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, which occurs on Friday, 1 May.
“Through his intercession,” the Pope said, “I entrust to the mercy of God all those who have been struck by unemployment because of the current pandemic.”
The Holy Father prayed, “May the Lord be the Providence of all those in need, and encourage us to help them.”
Mary and the prayer of the Rosary
With his thoughts fixed on the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic, Pope Francis then turned his attention to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Pope once again encouraged everyone to pray the Rosary, especially during the month of May – the subject of Letter the Holy Father had addressed to all the faithful just a few days earlier.
In his greetings to the faithful who speak Polish, the Holy Father said that now, when so many people are called to remain in their homes, it is a good opportunity “to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary, and the tradition of Marian devotions.”
He called on the faithful, whether as a family or individually, “to fix your gaze in every moment on the Face of Christ, and on the heart of Mary.”
Pope Francis then prayed, “May her maternal intercession help you to face this time of particular trial.”
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.