Saint Catherine was born in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347. Catherine was the 25th child born to her family. It was the time of the plague (Black Death) and many of her siblings, including her twin, did not survive. Her mother was 40 when she was born. Her father was a cloth dyer.

Catherine was devoted to God and to serving her family. Catherine explained that she regarded her father as representing Jesus and her mother as Our Lady. She refused to marry and spent her time in fasting and prayer. Catherine joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society while living at home. Catherine tended the sick and served the poor.

Catherine was very influential in the medieval Church. It was a time of schism and unrest. The Pope was in Avignon. Catherine used her influence to convince him to return to Rome.

Eventually she went home to Siena. There she dictated to secretaries her set of spiritual treatises The Dialogue. She is one of the most influential writers in Catholicism. Because of her influential contribution to Theology, Pope Paul VI on October 3rd 1970 declared her to be a Doctor of the Church. She is one of four women to be named Doctor of the Church.

Catherine died on April 29, 1380 at the age of 33. She was declared a saint on June 29, 1461 by Pope Pius II.

Saint Catherine of Siena was a great Dominican saint. She dedicated herself to prayer, she contributed to the study of theology, and she was involved in her world. She worked for peace and the transformation of Church and society. Catherine embodied the later words of St Thomas Aquinas: It is better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

Catherine was a preacher of truth – she encouraged other people of faith to have a voice – she said: We ‘ve had enough of exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see the world is rotten because of silence. Catherine was a saint for her world and a model for ours.

Photo: St. Catherine Of Siena by JD Warrick / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0