“She loved the poor.”

It’s a peculiar epitaph – “She loved the poor.”

These are the words on the cross that marks the grave of Catherine Doherty, a Catholic woman who founded the Madonna House apostolate, was a noted spiritual writer, and who died on this date in 1985.

Of all the things to have on a person’s grave, why does hers say this?

A quick search reveals that connection between her love for the poor borne out of her reflection on “The Reality of Christ’s Poverty” about which she said:

This is the month of Christ’s birthday. This is the month that the Son of God and the Son of Man was born in a cave.

Over the centuries, men and women have sentimentalized his birth. It is time for us Christians to take another look at this cave and at him who was born in it.

People who live in caves or give birth to children in caves are not the wealthy of this world. They are the poor. He, the Son of God, chose to be born in poverty. What does it mean to us moderns—this strange lesson of God’s birth?

And so, when we see the curious epitaph marking her grave, we are still invited to think of God.

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