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Saint Catherine of Siena

Feast Day: April 29th

Caterina Benincasa was born in Siena on March 25th 1347, the last of 25 children of the wealthy wool-dyer Jacopo Benincasa and Lapa di Puccio dé Piacenti.

At the age of six, Catherine received her first vision, near the Church of San Domenico. From this moment onwards the child began to follow a path of devotion, taking the oath of chastity only a year later. After initial resistance from her family, eventually her father gave in and left Catherine to follow her inclinations. In 1363, at just 15 years of age, Catherine donned the black cloak of the Dominican Tertiary sisters. In 1367 she began working tirelessly to help the sick at the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.

As her fame spread throughout Christendom, during a visit to the city of Pisa Catherine received the stigmata from a wooden cross hanging in the Church of Santa Cristina. Her many travels abroad to act as mediator for the Papacy included a trip to Avignon, where she urged Pope Gregory to bring the Papal Court back to Rome from its exile in France.


On returning to Siena, Catherine founded the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the castle of Belcaro. With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, his successor Urban VI had to face strong opposition from a number of cardinals who had elected a second Pope with the name of Clement VII, thereby provoking what would later come to be termed the Great Schism of the West. Pope Urban VI called on Catherine to act as mediator with princes, politicians and members of the Church, with a view to legitimizing his election.

In 1380, at just 33, Catherine died and was buried in the Rome church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. In 1461 Pope Pius II proclaimed her saint and in 1866 Pius IX included her as one of the patron saints of Rome. In 1939, along with St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena was proclaimed patron saint of Italy by Pope Pius XII.

In 1970 Paul VI conferred the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on Catherine and in 1999 she was proclaimed co-patron saint of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

(taken from

Quotes from St. Catherine of Siena's Writings

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”


"The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish." 


"Love transforms one into what one loves."


"You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love." 


"Reflect that God requires nothing else of us except that we show our neighbors the love we have for God."


"Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!" 


"God is more ready to pardon that we have been to sin." 


"Consider God's charity. Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out his life for those who have offended him?"


"Hope comes from love, because people always trust in those they love."


"You must believe in truth that whatever God gives or permits is for your salvation."


"It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light."


"You see this gentle loving Word born in a stable while Mary was on a journey, to show you pilgrims how you should be constantly born anew in the stable of self-knowledge, where by grace you will find me born in your soul."


"When God created man, he said to him: 'Be it done according to your will', that is, 'I make you free, subject only to myself.'"


"You know...that to join two things together there must be nothing between them or there cannot be a perfect fusion. Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be, without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between, just as God loves us without anything in between."


"The service you cannot render me you must do for your neighbors. Thus it will be evident that you have me within your soul by grace."


 "You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it--so by not getting what you've asked, you really are getting what you want." 


 "There is nothing we can desire or want that we do not find in God."


 "Since love for our Creator cannot be sustained unless we love others for God's sake."


 "You, eternal Trinity, are the craftsman; and I your handiwork have come to know that you are in love with the beauty of what you have made, since you made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son."


 "He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely."


“All the way to heaven is heaven, for Jesus said, I am the way.”

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