Catarina Benincasa: A Saint for Today

New Video! Catarina Benincasa: A Saint for Today

In honor of the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, Dominican lay woman and Doctor of the Church, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield are pleased to release a beautiful new production of Sister Santina DeLuca’s Catarina Benincasa: A Saint for Today.

The 17-minute one-woman performance is perfect for use as a teaching tool or for personal reflection. Click HERE to download a printable reflection guide.

The first time Sister Santina performed the role of St. Catherine of Siena, she was filling in last-minute for another sister famous for her performances at the annual Dominican High School Preaching Conferences. They were big shoes to fill. Working in her favor was her Sicilian heritage and a natural gift for connecting with people. That was a gift she believes St. Catherine had, too.

“I respected St. Catherine in the past, but having researched, studied and composed what I would present deepened my appreciation and love for her,” Sister Santina said. “She was a woman of her time, but is also timeless.”

Sister Santina recalls one of the lines from her performance: “‘There plagues and prisoners and the machines of violence,” her Catarina says. “Doesn’t that sound like our day?”

A Saint for Teens

Most of Sister Santina’s performances have been in front of teenage audiences, and her choice of stories from St. Catherine’s life favors them.

Early in the performance Catarina says “In my journey towards God my first question was not ‘Who is God?’ the question was ‘Who am I?’” Catarina Benincasa asks her audience to ponder this question, then with timeless wisdom she responds in character: “We need to go to the God who made us. By looking at this God we understand best who we are. Seeing ourselves through God’s eyes, gazing at ourselves in the gentle mirror of God, we may one day arrive at a rich self-knowledge.” This deep understanding of human development and of theology was why St. Catherine of Siena was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

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A Saint for the Suffering

Sister Santina recalls one of the stories she shares in the performance of Catherine’s encounter with a difficult woman name Tecca who had leprosy and was “a beast” toward others. Catherine took Tecca’s abuse in stride. Sister Santina believes she could do so because Catherine was a strong person herself and could appreciate what Tecca was going through, “suffering in the depths” Sister Santina called it.

It is an honor to put herself in the character of St. Catherine, Sister Santina said, because we are blessed with the heritage of the Order of Preachers. “To become aware of a person who lived in the 1300s and had such a deep relationship with God and the people of her time is very appropriate today. St. Catherine’s understanding of God’s command to walk on the two feet of love of God and love of neighbor are still relevant today.”

Ready to watch the video?

Consider these questions as you begin, and spend some time reflecting on them when you finish.

  1. What did you hear Caterina—St. Catherine of Siena—say to you?
  2. How do you walk on the two feet of love of God and love of neighbor?
  3. How would you answer St. Catherine’s question “Who am I?”
  4. How do you discern who you are?

2 thoughts on “Catarina Benincasa: A Saint for Today”

  1. Thank you so much for this video. I look forward to sharing it with my husband tomorrow on his last day of work. He is retiring.

    I ready her auto biography in grad school several years ago and this helped me to remember how much I loved her. Thank you so much!

  2. Patrick Harbauer

    Dear Sister Santina,

    Wow! What a wonderful performance of an awe inspiring message!

    Thank you and God Bless You!!

    Patrick Harbauer

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