St Catherine of Siena – Feast Day – April 29

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Today is Saturday, September 30, 2023

St Catherine of Siena, also known as Caterina di Jacopo di Benincasa, was a mystic, activist, author and a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic.

She was born on March 25 1347 in Siena, Italy and died on April 28 1380 aged 33 in Rome.

We celebrate her feast day on April 29 every year in the Catholic Church.

Saint Catherine of Siena is the Patron Saint of

  • Against fire;
  • Bodily ills;
  • Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA;
  • Europe;
  • Illness;
  • Italy;
  • Miscarriages;
  • People ridiculed for their piety;
  • Sexual temptation;
  • Sick people;
  • Sickness;
  • Nurses
St Catherine of Siena Biography
St Catherine of Siena - Feast Day - April 29
St Catherine of Siena – Feast Day – April 29
Date of Birth March 25 1347
Place of Birth Italy in Europe
Place of Work Italy
Date of Death April 29 1380 (aged 33)
Place of Death Rome, Papal States
Feast Day April 29
Canonization By Pope Pius II on June 29 1461
Patron Saint of • Against fire;
• Bodily ills;
• Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA;
• Europe;
• Illness;
• Italy;
• Miscarriages;
• People ridiculed for their piety;
• Sexual temptation;
• Sick people;
• Sickness;
• Nurses

Saint Catherine of Siena Life History

St. Catherine of Siena was born in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347, during a time when the plague was raging.

Catherine’s mother, Lapa Piagenti, was the daughter of a local poet, and her father, Jacopo di Benincasa, was a cloth dyer who operated his business with the assistance of his sons.

Despite being the 25th child born to her mother, only half of her siblings lived past infancy. Catherine was a twin, but unfortunately, her sister didn’t survive early infancy. Her mother gave birth to her at the age of 40.

From a young age, she was born and raised in Siena and had a strong desire to dedicate her life to God, even though it went against her parents’ wishes.

At a young age of five or six, Catherine encountered her first vision of Christ. As she and her brother were returning home from visiting their married sister, Catherine reportedly witnessed a vision of Christ seated in glory alongside the apostles’ Peter, Paul, and John. She committed to dedicating her entire life to God after this experience.

When Catherine was 16, her sister Bonaventura passed away, leaving her husband as a widower. Catherine’s parents suggested that he marry Catherine instead, but she refused.

To dissuade them, Catherine fasted and even cut her hair to alter her appearance.

At first, her parents were resistant to her desire to avoid marriage, but ultimately, they gave in to her wishes due to her fasting and dedication to her family. Her father gave up and permitted her to live as she pleased.

Catherine viewed her father as a representation of Jesus, her mother as Our Lady, and her brothers as apostles, which helped her serve them with humility.

Although Catherine had a strong religious inclination, she decided not to enter a convent. Instead, she joined the Third Order of St Dominic, which enabled her to associate with a religious community while residing at home.

When Catherine expressed her desire to join the order, her mother was not pleased and took her to Bagno Vignoni to improve her health.

However, Catherine fell gravely ill with a severe rash, fever, and pain. The sickness made her mother more accepting of Catherine’s desire to join the “Mantellate,” a group of devout women in the area.

Under the guidance of the Mantellate, Catherine learned to read and lived a mostly quiet and solitary life in her family’s house.

Catherine’s habit of distributing clothing and food without seeking anyone’s approval was expensive for her family, but she never asked for anything in return.

She stayed among them to more assertively express her rejection of their materialistic ways.

She didn’t desire their food and instead spoke of the banquet table laid for her in Heaven with her true family.

When Catherine was 21 years old, she had a “Mystical Marriage” with Jesus, which she described in her letters.

She stated that she received the ring of Christ’s foreskin, although she usually asserted that her wedding ring to Christ was invisible.

According to Catherine, Christ instructed her to abandon her secluded lifestyle and engage with the outside world.

Catherine returned to her family and started assisting the sick and impoverished, taking care of them in hospitals or their homes.

Her initial religious endeavors in Siena garnered a following of men and women who congregated around her.

As Catherine worked and helped others, she became more involved in society and eventually began traveling to advocate for Church reform, urging people to confess and love God wholeheartedly.

She also became involved in politics, playing a crucial role in keeping city-states loyal to the Pope. She was even credited with initiating a crusade to the Holy Land.

During one instance, she visited a convicted political prisoner and was credited with saving his soul, witnessing it ascend to heaven at the moment of his death.

It is said that St. Catherine received the stigmata, but like her wedding ring to Christ, it was only visible to her.

She selected Bl. Raymond of Capua as her confessor and guide. Starting in 1375, St. Catherine began dictating letters to scribes.

She advocated for peace and played a significant role in convincing the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome.

St. Catherine wrote letters with the aim of communicating with people in her circle, and gradually, she expanded her audience to include people in authority.

She pleaded for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and urged for the Papacy to return to Rome.

She corresponded frequently with Pope Gregory XI, requesting him to initiate reforms in the clergy and the Papal States administration.

In either late 1377 or early 1378, Catherine was instructed by Gregory XI to travel to Florence and negotiate peace between Florence and Rome.

However, after Gregory passed away in March 1378, riots known as the Ciompi uprisings erupted in Florence on 18 June, and Catherine narrowly escaped assassination during the chaos.

Despite the violence, a peace agreement was eventually reached between Florence and Rome in July 1378, and Catherine returned to Florence in a low-key manner.

In the latter part of November 1378, when the Western Schism began, Urban VI, the newly elected Pope, requested Catherine to come to Rome.

She stayed at Urban VI’s court and attempted to persuade nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy by meeting with them and writing letters.

Catherine had maintained a strict fasting routine for several years and received the Holy Eucharist almost every day.

However, her fasting habits were perceived as unhealthy by the clergy and her own sisterhood, and her confessor, Raymond, instructed her to eat properly.

Despite this, Catherine was unable to eat and described her inability to do so as an “illness.”

From the beginning of 1380, Catherine was unable to consume food or water and lost the use of her legs on February 26th.

She died in Rome on April 29 1380, at the age of thirty-three, after suffering a massive stroke that left her paralyzed from the waist down eight days earlier.

Her final words were, “Father, into Your Hands I commend my soul and my spirit.”

St Catherine was initially buried in the cemetery of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which is located near the Pantheon in Rome.

As miracles were reported to occur at her grave, Raymond decided to move her remains inside the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where they still rest today.

However, her head was separated from her body and placed in a bronze bust covered in gold. This bust was later brought to Siena and carried through the city in a procession to the Dominican church.

The incorrupt head and thumb were then entombed in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena, where they remain to this day.

Catherine’s mother lived until she was 89 years old and played a role in helping Raymond of Capua compose a biography of her daughter.

Catherine was canonized by Pope Pius II, who hailed from Siena, on June 29 1461. Centuries later, on October 4 1970, Pope Paul VI granted her the title of Doctor of the Church.

This distinction was given nearly at the same time as St Teresa of Ávila, who also became a Doctor of the Church on September 27 1970, making them the first women to receive this prestigious title.

At first, St Catherine’s feast day was not included in the General Roman Calendar. When it was finally added in 1597, it was scheduled on the day of her death, April 29th.

However, because this conflicted with the feast day of Saint Peter of Verona, which also occurred on April 29th, Catherine’s celebration was moved to a new date, April 30th, in 1628.

In the 1969 update of the calendar, it was decided that St Peter of Verona’s feast day would be celebrated only on local calendars because he was not as globally recognized.

As a result, St Catherine’s feast day was reinstated to its original date of April 29th.

Pope Pius IX proclaimed St Catherine of Siena as a co-patroness of Rome in his decree dated April 13 1866.

Decades later, on June 18 1939, Pope Pius XII named her as a shared patron saint of Italy, along with St Francis of Assisi.

Then, on October 1 1999, Pope John Paul II elevated her to the status of patron saint of Europe, along with St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and St Bridget of Sweden.

Furthermore, St Catherine of Siena is recognized as the patroness of Theta Phi Alpha, a women’s fraternity historically associated with the Catholic Church.

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The founder of Catholicreadings.org is Laban Thua Gachie. I am a Commissioned Lector, a commissioned Liturgy Minister, and a Commissioned member of the Catholic Men Association. We at Catholic Daily Readings, operate the catholicreadings.org, a Catholic Church-related website and we pride ourself in providing you, on a daily basis the following; 1. Catholic Daily Mass Readings 2. Reflections on those Daily Readings 3. Daily prayers 4. Bible Verse of the Day 5. Saint of the Day