A brief biography.
Catherine Jarrige, also named Catinon Menette, was born on 4 October 1754 in the village of Doumis, France. Known in the local dialect as "Catinon-Menette", literally, "Cathy the little nun", she was the youngest of seven children born to a tenant farmer.
She had a poor but happy childhood. She went to work as a domestic at the age of nine and lost her mother on 22.12.1767, when she was 13. As she grew up she learned to make lace and at the age of 20 moved to Mauriac.
Poor and humble herself, she serves the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and entered the Dominican Third Order, becoming a "menette", a "little nun", like her patron saint, Catherine of Siena. The "menettes" had no community life but lived in their own homes, and made a promise of chastity and prayed in common.
As she went begging for alms, she would finger her rosary, the Dominican prayer par excellence. Catherine loved to dance, particularly the graceful dance of Auvergne called the "bourree". Once she became a "menette", she had to give up all dancing: a difficult struggle for her, given her impetuous nature. At her sister's wedding, she yielded and was the first on the dance floor. The next morning she repented and promised never to dance again - a promise she kept for the rest of her life.
For 60 years, until the age of 82, she served the poor, the sick and orphans, and fed, clothed and cared for them as she would have for Christ himself.
In 1791 Catherine was very concerned about the priests who had refused to accept the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and were being driven from their posts.
She was firmly opposed to the meddling of the civil power in religious matters, but fought back with charity. For nine years she devoted all her charitable efforts to aiding conjuring clergy, particularly in 1792 when the persecution reached the region of Cantal. She found hiding places for the priests and brought them food and clothing, hosts and wine so they could celebrate Mass. She even accompanied to the guillotine a conjuring priest who had defended the sanctity of marriage.
After the persecution ended, she helped rebuild the Church. Having been known as the "menette of the poor", she was now called the "menette of the priests".
She died on 4 July 1836, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome on Sunday 24 November 1996.
Pope John Paul II beatified Catherine Jarrige (04.10.1754-04.07.1836), member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic,
in Rome on Sunday 24.11.1996.
Vatican City 24.11.1996.KimCover PW 1275.
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