St. Catherine of Siena

Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

The following reflection is part of an ongoing series about the life of St. Dominic & the Order of Friars Preachers.

The unschooled daughter of a wealthy merchant, Catherine (1347 -80) left writings that theologians still ponder and for which she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, one of four women Doctors. A member of the Dominican Laity, Catherine deplored the Italian civil anarchy and and lack of church reform and worked to restore the papacy in exile in Avignon. A woman in a world dominated by men, she nevertheless influenced popes, chided cardinals, and lectured kings. Her dictated Dialogue of St. Catherine, the celebrated mystical work, is a religious classic. Tradition holds that Christ appeared to Catherine and offered her two crowns: one of gold, signifying earthly honors, and the other of thorns, denoting suffering, contempt, and failure. Because of her devotion to Christ’s sufferings, Catherine chose the latter. For this Christ rewarded her with the sacred marks of the stigmata.

Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (a member of the English Province) was invited by the Dominican Foundation to take pictures of some of the locations where our friars serve throughout the Northeast. During his time in Washington, D.C., Fr. Lew photographed the interior of the Church of St. Dominic. St. Dominic’s has been the church where our friars are ordained to the priesthood each May. Surrounding the church, is a collection of beautiful stained glass windows that chronicle the life of St. Dominic & the foundation of the Order of Preachers. Fr. Lew accomplished a great work by capturing the splendor of these windows, and in the process, the life of a towering saint.