Today is the feast of St Catherine of Sienna, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, and one of the six co-patrons of the continent of Europe. It is one of those feast days the celebration of which is enriched by my having visited St Catherine's Shrine in Sienna a number of years ago.
I am reminded of St Catherine's image of Christ as a Bridge that joins earth and heaven, a way across which we must walk to gain salvation. Part of the saint's description of the Bridge is headed by this introduction:
How this Bridge is built of stones which signify virtues; and how on the Bridge is a hostelry where food is given to the travellers; and how he who goes over the Bridge goes to life, while he who goes under It goes to perdition and death.
The section of the following passage that describes the hostelry reads:
His also is the Hostelry in the Garden of the Holy Church, which keeps and ministers the Bread of Life, and gives to drink of the Blood, so that My creatures, journeying on their pilgrimage, may not, through weariness, faint by the way; and for this reason My love has ordained that the Blood and the Body of My only-begotten Son, wholly God and wholly man, may be ministered to you.
As I am reminded of this image of St Catherine, I am also prompted to think of Pope Francis' characterisation of the Church as a field hospital. The two images strike me as being entirely complementary to each other.
As I briefly re-read St Catherine in order to write this post, I notice too her emphasis on the Blood of Christ - in the passage referred to above, she describes it as moistening the mortar binding the stones of the Bridge. When our post-pandemic practice allows a return to receiving Holy Communion in both kinds, St Catherine would make valuable reading to inform that renewed practice.