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SAINT CATALINA THOMÀS

SAINT CATALINA THOMÀS

Caterina Thomàs i Gallard was born in Valldemossa on 1 May 1531 and is the only saint from Mallorca. She was beatified in 1792 by Pope Pius VI and canonised in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. She is known in Mallorca as the “beata” or the “beateta”. She was known as a visionary, having seen visions of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Anthony of Padua and angels, and of prophesying the future”.

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She was the youngest of six siblings. Her parents died prematurely and Catalina was taken under the care of her maternal uncle Juan Gallardo, who was married to one of her mother´s sisters, María Tomas. He promised to look after her for 5 years with the obligation to dress her, provide shoes for her, feed her and pay her 5 pounds for her work at the Son Gallard estate, carrying out typical farming work.

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Thanks to the intervention of father Castañeda, a former soldier in the armies of Charles I who had survived a sinking and chosen to live as a hermit in Miramar, she was able to enter the historic convent of Santa Magdalena in Palma, at the age of 21. It was a monastery of Regular Agustinian Canonesses, and thus, dedicated to prayer. At the time that Catalina entered, the papacy had already imposed severe closure for all convents. She professed on 24 August 1555.

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Saint Catalina Thomàs is a very beloved religious figure on the island. Consequently, many patron saint festivals are held in her honour, including Santa Margalida (first weekend of September), Palma (third Saturday in October) and Vilafranca de Bonany (end of July). The patron saint festival of Valldemossa in honour of Saint Catalina Thomàs is held on 28 July. Within the schedule of festivities, the Procession of the Relic and the Cavalcade of the Triumphant Carriage of the Saint that travels through the streets of the town, led by the “beateta”, “s´Hereva” and the ladies of honour, followed by the imaged of the saint and, closing out the procession, the authorities and several people dressed as payés (Mallorcan country peasants).

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In Valldemossa devotion to her is also shown through the tiles found in almost all houses in the town with depictions of moments from the life of the Saint with the inscription: “Santa Catalina Thomàs, pregau per nosaltres” (“Saint Catalina Thomàs, pray for us”).

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She died at the age of 43. Her body is kept in the convent of Santa Magdalena de Palma. In Valldemossa you can visit the house where she was born.