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Saint Catharine of Genoa – Dying from the Heat of the Mystic

Identifier

024258

Type of spiritual experience

Background

Friar Herbert Thurston was a Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order and an historian.  He wrote extensively on Catholic mysticism and psychic phenomena and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research.  He was also widely read on this subject.  He is described as ‘an honest skeptic’., and once said ‘the role of Devil’s advocate is a thankless one and does not make for popularity’.

A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

But the most curious and interesting record of the internal conflagration by which the last remnants of Catherine’s vitality were consumed has still to be noticed. On August 28th, when the tragedy of suffering began to near its end, she was again all on fire.  She cried aloud that

 "all the water which the world contain could not give me the least refreshment."

 Later her tongue and lips became so parched with the burning heat within that she could not move them or speak.

At such times, if anyone touched a hair of her head, or even the edge of the bed, or the bedclothes, she would scream as if she had been stabbed. Her confessor sometimes hesitated to bring her Communion in this state, for she could swallow nothing, neither food or drink,

 "but, with a joyous face, she would make him a sign that she was not afraid, and then, when she had received, she remained with her countenance glowing and rosy, like that of a Seraph."

The source of the experience

Saint Catherine of Genoa

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans