A saintly coincidence

While covering the canonizations of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII, I had a profound affirmation concerning the intercession of the saints. But it didn’t come from one of our new saints. Instead, it came from one of the doctors of the Church and the patron of Italy: St. Catherine of Siena.

St. Catherine’s feast day is April 29, and this year it fell on a Tuesday, two days after the canonizations. I was still in Rome covering all the related activities and co-hosting a pilgrimage with 60 people from all over the United States. In addition to doing live shows and filing regular reports, I also was joining the pilgrims each day for several hours as they toured ancient and Christian Rome.

When I woke up that morning, being that St. Catherine is one of my favorite saints, I was determined to make it over to Santa Maria sopra Minerva where she is buried so I could pray inside the tomb, which is allowed on her feast day. This great doctor of the Church was on my mind and heart all afternoon. I kept asking her to help me complete my assignments, and I also told her how much I wanted to stop by the church to pray.

But no matter how hard I prayed or how hard I tried to get to her tomb, it was not to be.

In addition to my work for Catholic media, I was also being interviewed by the secular media. So after my radio shows, I packed up and headed to St. Peter’s Square where I was scheduled to meet the crew from the local NBC affiliate in my hometown of Detroit. Off I went with my big personal pity party in full swing.

When I arrived in the square, the producer told me they wanted to shoot in a location other than St. Peter’s, so we began walking toward the Tiber River. As we were making our way toward our location, I was still feeling sorry for myself, but at the same time I was apologizing to St. Catherine and also asking for help with the interview. When we finally met up with the videographer, I couldn’t believe what I saw in front of me: the larger-than-life statue of St. Catherine of Siena. There she was, right in front of me.

The camera was positioned toward the Tiber, which meant I was facing the opposite direction and looking right at the statue, which is just to the left of Castel Sant’ Angelo. I had seen the statue only once before in my trips to Rome. Given what I was feeling — and given that this was her feast day — it was hard to pass this off as mere coincidence. Wasn’t I just reporting on the canonizations of two great men of the Church whose holiness and personal intercession had been the subject of news headlines for the past few weeks? Not that my experience was miraculous, but it was certainly an answer to prayer and a reminder that the saints are real and they do go to bat for us.

Just to make sure I wasn’t being overly dramatic, I sought the opinion of my husband, who is now a deacon, and a dear friend of mine, Father Scott Courtney from the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. Both assured me that this was what I like to call a “Godcidence.” There are a thousand places to shoot great video or take great pictures in Rome — why in the exact spot that planted me right in front of the saint upon whom I had been calling, and on her feast day no less?

Father Scott reminded me of a powerful verse — Matthew 6:26 — which tells us we are more important than a bird. God takes care of the birds of the air, so certainly providing for our needs is also at the top of his priority list. God is indeed good all the time, and sometimes he uses his cloud of witnesses to show us how much his eye is not only on the sparrow, but on you and me as well.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ava Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.