1347 - 1380

Can you imagine what it must be like to have twenty-two brothers and sisters? Well, St. Catherine of Siena was the youngest of twenty-two children. In her household there was always laughter and someone with whom to play games.

As Catherine grew up, she was somewhat of a problem for her mother. She refused to be married and she refused to become a nun. When she was still a teenager she joined the Third Order of St Dominic. The rules of this group allowed her to wear the black and white habit of the Dominican Order but to live in her own home.

For several years, the fun-loving Catherine left her room only to go to Mass in the nearby church. She spent her time in prayer, and she slept and ate very little. Through     her prayer she came to realize that God wanted her to work in a special way. She began to nurse the sick, help the poor and visit the prisoners. Soon a group of people began to father around her and to do the things that she did. They too worked to help those in need. The word of Catherine's holiness spread to other towns besides Siena. Because she was so wise, many people came to her for advice.

" by Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S. J.

"Sr. Catherine of Siena"
by Mary Ann Sullivan

"St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the church, Lay Dominican"

"St Catherine of Siena - The Dialogue"

"Novena Prayers in honor of St. Catherine of Siena"

  There was a serious situation in the Church at this time. When Frenchmen were elected as Pope, they didn't stay in Rome like the other Popes but instead went to Avignon in France. Many of the Popes took orders from the French kings. This made other countries angry. It was not good for the Church either. The leaders of the republic of Florence asked Catherine to go to Avignon to convince the Pope to return to Rome so that there could be peace. Catherine went but it was very difficult. People made fun of her. Some bishops thought that she was giving the people false teachings. They asked her questions over and over again.

  Because of her holiness, Pope Gregory XI listened to her and returned to Rome. However, he died within a year. The new Pope, Urban VI, wanted a reform and upset many people. Some of the French bishops said that they had elected him Pope because they were so afraid of the mobs outside who wanted an Italian Pope. Therefore, they said that the election didn't count because they had elected him our of fear. These bishops elected another Pope, and this Pope lived in Avignon. It was very confusing and a time of great trial for the Church. Pope Urban VI asked Catherine to help settle this serious dispute.

  Catherine knew that she did not have long to live, and she wanted her followers to have her spiritual teachings as her last gift to them. She therefore asked her friends to listen carefully and write down all that she said when she went into ecstasy. During these times of ecstasy Catherine's body would become stiff and without feeling. She could neither see nor hear. Sometimes she would speak and then others could know the conversation she had with the Lord. She wanted to share this with her followers. The secretaries wrote this down. This book, known as The Dialogue, recorded the conversations of the Lord with Catherine

  When Catherine went to Rome, she prayed and fasted that the Church would again be united, and she pleaded with the cardinals and kings to accept Urban VI as the true Pope. There, in poor health and saddened by the situation around her, she became ill and died in Rome. She had always lived the ideals of St. Dominic in her love for the Church. She, with St. Francis, is the patron saint of Italy. She was made a doctor of the Church in 1970.





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