People Who Kick Buts: Saint Catherine Of Siena
Be who you were created to be and set the world on fire.
- Born on 25 March 1347 in Siena and passed away on 29 April 1380 in Rome.
- A tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian.
She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states.
- She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970. She is one of the two patron saints of Italy, together with St. Francis of Assisi.
- Caterina Benincasa was born in Siena, Italy, to Giacomo di Benincasa, a cloth dyer who ran his enterprise with the help of his sons, and Lapa Piagenti, possibly the daughter of a local poet.
- Born in 1347, she arrived when the black death struck the area; Siena was badly ravaged.
Lapa was about forty years old when she prematurely gave birth to twin daughters, Catherine and Giovanna.
Lapa had already had 22 children, but half of them had died.
- Catherine had her first vision of Christ when she was age five or six, saying that Jesus smiled at her, blessed her, and left her in ecstasy. At age seven she vowed chastity.
- In June 1376 Catherine went to Avignon herself as ambassador of Florence to make peace with the Papal States, but was unsuccessful. She also tried to convince Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. She impressed the Pope so much that he returned his administration to Rome in January 1377.
Following Gregory’s death and during the Western Schism of 1378 she was an adherent of Pope Urban VI, who summoned her to Rome, and stayed at Pope Urban VI’s court and tried to convince nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy. She lived in Rome until her death in 1380. The problems of the Western Schism would trouble her until the end of her life.
- St Catherine’s letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature. More than 300 have survived. In her letters to the Pope, she often referred to him affectionately as Papa (“Pope” in Italian).
- St Catherine died in Rome, on 29 April 1380, at the age of thirty-three, having suffered a stroke eight days earlier.