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Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
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CHAPTER VIII

How the Saint devoted herself to pious works, and served in a hospital.

In the beginning of her conversion she devoted herself to good works, seeking for the poor throughout the city, under the guidance of the Ladies of Mercy on whom devolved this charge and who, according to the custom of the city, supplied her with money and provisions for the poor. She cleansed their houses from the most disgusting filth, and she would even put it in her mouth, in order to conquer the disgust it produced. She took home the garments of the poor, covered with dirt and vermin, and having cleansed them thoroughly, returned them to their owners. It was remarkable that nothing unclean was ever found upon herself: she also tended the sick with most devoted affection, speaking to them of their spiritual as well as of their temporal affairs.

She took charge of the great hospital of Genoa, where nothing escaped her watchful care, although her incessant occupations never diminished her affection for God, her sweet Love; neither did this love ever cause her to neglect her service in the hospital, which was regarded as a miracle by all who saw her. It is also remarkable that she never made the mistake of a single farthing, in the accounts of large sums of money which she was obliged to keep, and, for her own little necessities, she made use of her own little income.

There was once in the hospital a very pious woman of the third order of St. Francis, who was dying of a malignant fever. She was in her agony for eight days, and during that time, Catherine often visited her, and would say to her: “Call Jesus!” Unable to articulate, she moved her lips so that it was conjectured that she tried to do so, and Catherine, when she saw her mouth so filled, as it were, with Jesus, could not restrain herself from kissing her, and in this way took the fever, and only narrowly escaped death. This, however, did not diminish her zeal in the service of the hospital, to which she returned immediately upon her recovery, and devoted herself to it with great care and diligence.

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