St. Catherine of Sweden: patroness of miscarriage
A brief biography
St. Catherine of Sweden lived in the 1300s and was a daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden. She was given in marriage to an older German noble when she was a teenager, who she convinced to take a vow of absolute chastity with her. Her husband died not too long after the marriage, leaving her a young widow. Many men tried to woo her, but she chose to travel Europe doing good works with her mother. After St. Bridget died during their travels, St. Catherine returned to Sweden and founded a religious order based on the rule her mother had written. She died around the age of 50 in 1351.(1)
Wait, but…why miscarriage?
St. Catherine’s story doesn’t seem to immediately lend itself to being the patroness of women who suffer miscarriage. She never had children herself; she and her husband had a Josephite marriage (also known as a “spiritual marriage, a chaste marriage, [or a] continent marriage”(2)!
Her mother, St. Bridget, had eight children; six survived infancy, which was rare in that era of less medical intervention in infancy. St. Bridget knew the pain of losing children as infants. She would minister to women suffering miscarriage, and St. Catherine joined her in that ministry.(3)
Just as priests (despite not even being women!) can competently give us spiritual counsel in our struggles because of their spiritual fatherhood, St. Catherine of Sweden can be our patroness, our intercessor, in miscarriage, despite never having her own, because of her spiritual motherhood and now her presence in the Church Triumphant in heaven.
Prayer to St. Catherine of Sweden
“Dear St. Catherine, patron of those who have suffered a miscarriage, you know the dangers that await unborn infants. Please intercede for me that I may receive healing from the loss I have suffered. My soul has been deprived of peace and I have forgotten what true happiness is. As I mourn the loss of my child, I place myself in the hands of God and ask for strength to accept His will in all things, for consolation in my grief, and for peace in my sorrow. Glorious St. Catherine, hear my prayers and ask that God, in good time, grant me a healthy baby who will become a true child of God. Amen.” (4)
St. Catherine of Sweden’s feast day is celebrated on 24th March.