Monday, March 13, 2017

Saint Catherine of Sienna

Saint Catherine of Sienna

The holy virgin Catherine steadfastly begged the Lord to restore peace to his holy Church, alleluia.
- Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah, April 29th, Liturgy of the Hours

Saint Catherine was born the youngest of 23 children in the year 1347 to parents Giacomo and Lapa Benincasa. Her father was a dyer and her mother was the daughter of a local poet. Catherine was a holy child having consecrated her virginity to Christ at the age seven. At the age of sixteen, she entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic and her father gave her her own room for prayer and meditation in which she spent three years in prayer, seclusion, and meditation. About the age of 20, Catherine experienced what hagiographers call, a “spiritual espousal” in which she received a vision of Christ taking her for Hid Bride in a personal way, bestowing upon this spouse a spiritual grace that gives the recipient an augmentation of charity and familiarity with God. Other saints such as Blessed Angela of Foligno, St. Colette, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Ricci, Venerable Marina d'Escobar, St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, St. Veronica Giuliani, and Venerable Maria de Agreda, have been said to have received similar visions.

This grace manifested itself in Catherine’s life when in 1366 she left her life of seclusion and began to tend to the sick, serve the poor and work to convert sinners. It is said that Saint Catherine of Sienna had a deep devotion to the Eucharist subsisting on the Eucharist alone for long intervals of time. She attracted many followers due to her holiness. As she grew older she began to preach more and with the candor and authority of a person deeply committed to Jesus. This on some occasions led to opposition by both secular authorities and members of the clergy. Despite her extreme fasting and the opposition, she experienced Catherine was known for her radiant happiness and practical wisdom. 

Jesus’ grace continued to manifest itself in her life and she began to work on behalf of the Church in public affairs helping to start a crusade to the Holy Land, worked for peace between Florence and the Pope, helped to heal the Great Schism of 1378 and was key in persuading the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome. She died on April 29th in 1380, was canonized a saint in 1461 and declared, along with Saint Theresa of Avila, a doctor of the church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. 

in meditating on the sufferings of your Son
and serving your Church,
Saint Catherine was filled with the fervor of your love.
By her prayers,
may we share in the mystery of Christ’s death
and rejoice in the revelation of his glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
on God, for ever and ever.
- Prayer from the Proper of Saint for the 29th of April, Liturgy of the Hours.

Saint Catherine of Sienna Pray for us.

A reliquary containing
the head of Saint Catherine of Sienna
in the Basilica of San Domenico in Sienna


Gardner, E. (1908). St. Catherine of Siena. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 13, 2017 from New Advent:

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