St. Catherine of Siena is considered the Doctor of the Parish. She was born in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347. When she was born there was a major outbreak of plague. She was born as the 25th child of her mother when she was 40 years old. Most of her siblings perished in the plague. St. Catherine was herself a twin but her twin did not survive too.
When St. Catherine was 16 years old, her elder sister expired leaving her husband a widower. Her parents intended to marry her off to him but she was aghast. She began to fast and devoted her time to prayer to relieve from the family ties. She even chopped her hair to mar her appearance. She never disobeyed her parents or siblings but this one thing she was strongly against.
When her mother once inquired how she was able to follow this discipline of obedience, she replied that she considered her father as Jesus, her mother as Mary and her siblings as Apostles of Christ and this made her serve them in humility.
Though religious, she did not want to leave her parents. So she did not join a convent. She rather joined the Third Order of St.Dominic, which allowed her to serve the Lord staying with the family. She learnt to read and write there. She was continuously working when something came up at the age of 21.
She claimed to have a vision of Christ in a mystical marriage to her with a ring made of Jesus’ skin. Later she claimed the ring to be invisible. After that she was more into serving the sick and the poor outside the church too and mostly involved in leading the people to Christ.
She started travelling far to spread the word of God. She involved in the state politics too and made sure the states stay loyal to the Papacy. She was also the pioneer to start a crusade to the Holy Land. She once visited a political prisoner as a last wish and she preached him and saved his soul. She then saw his soul being taken by the angels to heaven.
She then involved in restoring the Papacy rule at Rome and played a major role in making peace between the war making Italian states. She wrote many letters and petitioned for peace throughout. The works were so influential and actually worked in bringing back the Pope in Avignon back to Rome. That was the reason she was considered the Doctor of the Church. She also established a monastery for Woman in 1377.
She fasted and traveled a lot due to which her health grew worse and she breathed her last on April 29 at the age of 33. The people of Siena wanted to take her body to Siena which the Pope refused grant. They tried to smuggle her body out but couldn’t. Finally they made a plan and cut the head alone and took it in a bag. When the soldiers checked it, it was full of rose petals. Once back in Siena, when they opened the bag it was her head again. That is the reason she is always portrayed holding a bouquet of flowers.
Feast Day – April 29
Patron – Against Fire, miscarriages, sexual temptation, Italy.
St. Catherine of Siena Prayers
1) Eternal God, eternal Trinity, You have made the Blood of Christ so precious through His sharing in Your Divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for You. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When You fill my soul I have an ever-greater hunger, and I grow more famished for Your light. I desire above all to see You, the true light, as you really are.
2) In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love. And you have given humankind a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created us. And so with all other people and every created thing; you made them out of love. O ungrateful people! What nature has your God given you? His very own nature! Are you not ashamed to cut yourself off from such a noble thing through the guilt of deadly sin? O eternal Trinity, my sweet love! You, light, give us light. You, wisdom, give us wisdom. You, supreme strength, strengthen us. Today, eternal God, let our cloud be dissipated so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth in truth, with a free and simple heart. God, come to our assistance! Lord, make haste to help us!