Her life


Saint Catherine of Siena was an extraordinary woman, who by the force of her spirit and action played an enormously important role in the history of the Church and of Europe, also because the century when she lived – the fourteenth – was a time of great turmoil in the life of the Church and the entire social fabric of Italy and Europe.

She was born in Siena on 25 March 1347 to the cloth-dyer Jacopo Benincasa and Lapa di Puccio de’ Piacenti. She was the twenty-fourth child, one of twin girls, of a total of twenty-five children. At the age of six she had her first vision of Christ dressed in papal robes, accompanied by the apostles Peter and Paul and the evangelist John. This experience left a very deep impression on her, so much so that at the age of seven she made a vow of perpetual virginity. But her family was against her vocation, until one day her father surprised her at prayer with a dove flying around her head. In 1363 she took the habit of the Dominican Third Order. Her life continued in prayer and penance; at the age of twenty she learned to read, received the ring of her mystical marriage with Christ, dictated her first letters, and began her charitable work with the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, often receiving ingratitude and slander in return. Her personality began to attract the first disciples, who were jeeringly referred to as “caterinati” . . .

  • Her life
  • Alessandro Franchi-Gaetano Marinelli, Saint Catherine's Father Surprises Her at Prayer with the Dove of the Holy Spirit above her Head,  1896.
  • Rutilio Manetti, Saint Catherine Receiving the Stigmata from the Crucifix, 1630.
  • Sebastiano Conca, Catherine Exhorting Gregory XI to Return to Rome, 18th century.