Born in 1347 in Siena, Caterina di Giacomo Benincasa is remembered as a humble woman of the people. “Illiterate”, she left about 375 letters, hand-scribed by disciples after dictating them. In the months leading up to her departure for Rome, when she died at 33 years, she composed her book, The Dialogue of Divine Providence, dictating it in ecstasy. The Orations (prayers addressed to the Lord) were also collated in ecstasy. These were her shortest compositions, but are probably the most sublime in terms of theological thinking.
The life of Catherine of Siena can be divided into two periods: one of concealment, from her birth to age 21, as preparation within the walls of her home, and then of society with the humble Sienese Terziarie order, until the moment in which she heard God call her to exterior activities.
There was nobody like her in the Middle Ages, considering her humble origins, her education without formal studies and her achievements as an enlightened tutor, powerful writer, unparalleled orator, advisor to princes and popes, and even as a “spin doctor” for the Church. In 1461, she was canonized by Pope Pius II. In 1939, Pope Pius XII declared her to be the Patron Saint of Italy alongside Saint Francis of Assisi. In 1970, Pope Paul VI included her on the list of Doctors of the Church.
The feast days of Saint Catherine are celebrated from April 29 to 30.
Symbols of the saint: ring, book and fleur-de-lis.