Monday, April 29, 2013

St. Catherine of Siena

Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Dominican mystic, and papal advisor. She was born in 1347 in Siena, Italy, the youngest of 25 children of the Benincasa family.

Here's more from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints, by Dr. Matthew Bunson:

Catherine was born on March 25, 1347, in Siena, Italy, the youngest of twenty-five children of the Benincasa family. She received her first mystical experience at age six. Her parents, successful wool dyers, raised her strictly and planned her marriage, but Catherine refused such a future, starting her prayers and penances at an early age.

She became a Dominican tertiary at sixteen, experiencing visions and periods of spiritual dryness. In the local hospital, Catherine cared for cancer victims and lepers. Her supernatural gifts brought about resentment from her Dominican sisters, and charges were leveled against her. At a meeting of the Dominicans in Florence, she was cleared and provided with a spiritual director, Blessed Raymond of Capua.

Returning to Siena, Catherine cared for plague victims and condemned prisoners. Her holiness attracted many followers and led to her being called upon as peacemaker and counselor. She supported Pope Gregory XI (r. 1370-1378) in his crusade against the Turks and visited Pisa in 1375.

While in Pisa, Catherine received the stigmata, which remained invisible until she died. Catherine also promoted peace between the pope and the city of Florence. Meeting Gregory XI in Avignon, France, she successfully counseled the Holy Father to restore the papacy to Rome in 1376. Upon returning to Siena, Catherine devoted herself to recording her mystical experiences. Her Dialogue was published as a result.

When Pope Gregory died in 1378, the subsequent conclave elected Pope Urban VI (r. 1378-1389). When, however, a group of dissident cardinals rejected Urban’s election and chose instead an antipope, Robert of Geneva, as Clement VII, they launched the Great Schism. The schism troubled the Church well into the next century. Catherine was called to Rome, where she counseled Urban VI and tried to summon support for him throughout the Church. She suffered a paralytic stroke on April 21, and died on April 29, 1380.

Catherine of Siena was canonized in 1461. In 1939, she was made patroness of Italy, and in 1970, was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI (r. 1963-1978). She has been the patroness of Rome since 1866, and patroness of the dying. She is invoked against headaches and the plague. Her mortal remains are in Rome, and her relics are enshrined in Siena and Venice. She was named co-patroness of Europe, with St. Brigid of Sweden and St. Edith Stein, on October 1, 1999, by Pope John Paul II.

No comments:

Post a Comment