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St Catherine of Siena

St Catherine of Sienna

Born at Siena, Italy, on 25th. March 1347 (Feastday of the Annunciation), died in Rome 29/4/1380 - just 33 years of age (same age as Jesus at His death)

From her earliest childhood Catherine began to have Divine visions, and at age seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ. At 16 years of age she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, an organisation until then exclusively male. She began to look after the sick, especially those with horrible diseases, and to work on the conversion of sinners.

In 1370 she received a series of special explanations of Divine Mysteries, and had a vision of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, and she heard a command to enter the public life of the world.

And enter it she did - writing letters to all sorts of people including Princes, papal legates, and even the Pope. At this stage known as the "Babylon Captivity" (the period when the Pope lived and had the centre of the Catholic Church in Avignon France, instead of Rome) she worked on convincing the Pope to return to Rome. Against the opposition of the King of France and most of the Sacred College of cardinals, she succeeded, and the Pope returned to Rome with his entire court.

During Lent in the year 1375, St Catherine received the Stigmata, but by her special prayers of request the wounds did not become visible during her lifetime.

Her writings include -

  • * "The Dialogue" or "Treatise on Divine Providence"
  • A collection of about 400 letters to people in all walks of life.
  • A series of Prayers.

*"The Dialogue" which is a series of dialogues between the Eternal Father and Man, is the mystical counterpart of Dante's "Divine Comedy"

After a mysterious agony of some three months, she died in Rome in 1380, and was canonised by Pope Pius II in 1461.

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