St. Catherine of Siena

Dotta Ignorance

Santi Catherine is surprised to have been chosen to become useful to the souls. In fact, his wisdom derives from the divine wisdom which infuses her into an inbring assimilation of the divine truths and mysteries of faith.

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Catherine was born in Siena, in the district of Fontebranda, in the Contrada dell'Oca, on March 25, Palm Sunday of the year 1347. Daughter of the dyer of cloths Jacopo Benincasa and his wife Lapa Piacenti, twenty-fourth of 25 sons and daughters. Together with her was born a twin sister, baptized with the name of Giovanna, who died a few weeks of life.

In 1348 Siena and Europe are devastated by the plague epidemic that tends to the population.

She was still a six-year-old girl when in 1353, she had her first vision destined to mark her life forever. The Jesus Christ enthroned with Saints Peter and Paul appears to her. Begins a journey of mortification of fasts and penances. The Pope was then in Avignon.

When Catherine reached the age of twelve, her parents tried to give her a husband. At first Caterina seemed to agree, but then, declared that she had voted for the Lord and did not want to withdraw the word given. She reacted by cutting his hair completely and closing himself at home. In order to overcome her obstinacy, her parents forced her to do strenuous domestic work that strengthened her in her inner conviction.

One day his father surprised her in prayer with a dove hovering over her head. To this view Jacopo realized that his daughter's attitude did not come from human lightness and gave an order that no one would hinder her in her desire.

Only after years of prayer and penance, in 1363, when Catherine was sixteen, was welcomed in the Basilica of San Domenico, among the secular tertiaries, order of the Domenicane (or Mantellate, because of the black coat on the white dress). They were bound by chastity, prayer and penance.

She herself tells of having approached the sacred readings even though she was half-illiterate and, after days of exhausting and not very fruitful efforts, to have received from the Lord the gift of knowing how to read. She will also learn to write later, only three years before her death, but most of her writings and correspondences were dictated. At that time she tells that Jesus appeared to her with her mother and other saints, for mystical wedding. Jesus himself put a ring adorned with rubies on his finger, visible only to her eyes. After the experience of the mystical marriage with Christ, in the mystical marriage, she was also marked by invisible stigmata. In 1370 it was the year of great ecstasies with an important vision, in which Jesus appeared to her, exchanging her heart with hers.

Catherine of Siena believed that assisting the sick and the poor, who personified the suffering Christ, was the way to find the Lord. Catherine was especially active at the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, where there were also sick people who no one attended, or because they had no relatives, or because they were afflicted with contagious diseases. Catherine dedicated herself especially to them. This activity lasted for months, especially in times of epidemics, which were very frequent and deadly; his example began to be imitated by other sisters of her fraternity.

She began to gather her first followers, and since then her activity was no longer limited to the long vigils of prayer, penance, and corporal punishment. Her intense charitable activity towards the poor, the sick and the prisoners began, also facing slander and ingratitude.

Catherine of Siena undertook an intense correspondence activity, dictating her missives with the help of her friends. She wrote about 380 letters during the last ten years of his life. This huge epistolary dealt with problems and issues both of religious life and social life of each class, and also moral and political problems that affected the whole Church, the empire, the kingdoms and the States of the fourteenth century Europe. Catherine sent her letters to friends and followers, but also to the powerful of the earth and to the same Pontiff. The themes dealt with by her correspondence were the Pope's return to Rome, the reform of the Church, the moralization of the clerical customs, the need to organize a new crusade and peace.

In 1374 Catherine went to Florence, called by the chapter of the Dominican Order who was worried about her orthodoxy. After having undergone rigorous tests, every doubt was dispelled. It was assigned as confessor and spiritual guide Raimondo da Capua, who later became her biographer. When the plague broke out, Catherine went to Siena to assist the plague victims. In 1375 he went to Pisa and Lucca to dissuade the leaders of the two cities from joining the anti-papal league, then he returned to Siena where she converted Nicolò di Tuldo, sentenced to death.

On June 18, 1376, he arrived in Avignon, where he met the Pope and urged him to return to Rome. Gregory XI will leave on September 13th and will arrive in Rome on January 17th 1377.
Back in Siena, she went on a mission of peace and evangelization among the castles of the Val d'Orcia. In 1378, on behalf of the Pope, he returned to Florence to negotiate peace, which was in fact signed on July 18th. Gregory XI (,) died on March 23rd, 1378.

Her successor was Bartolomeo Prignano, who assumed the name of Urban VI. A part of the College of Cardinals did not recognize her and elected the antipope Clement VII, causing the great schism of the West to break out, which would last for forty years, until 1417.

Catherine sided with Urban VI, beginning to write letters in every part of the Christian world in her favor.

She died shortly before noon on Sunday 29 April 1380.

Catherine is one of the most venerated saints of the Catholic Church. On 29 June 1461, Pius II canonized her and on March 8, 1866, Pius IX proclaimed her co-patron of Rome. On 18th June 1939 she was proclaimed by Pius XII, patron saint of Italy together with Francis of Assisi. On October 4, 1970, Paul VI recognized her with the title of Doctor of the Universal Church. On October 1st 1999 Saint John Paul II wanted her to be co-patroness of Europe.

The works:
- 381 Letters
- Dialogue of Providence or Book of Divine Doctrine
- 26 Prayers

His principal work is the Dialogue of Divine Providence, a conversation between Catherine and the Eternal Father, where Catherine asks four things:
- Her sanctification.
- The salvation of the human race and peace in the Church.
- The reform of the clergy.
- The guide of divine Providence for the salvation of souls.

Three stages that Catherine describes in the itinerary of souls to holiness:
- Servile love: accompanied by the fear of punishment for one's own sins;
- Mercenary love: accompanied by the hope of eternal reward;
- Filial love: love of God for his interest which is the perfection of charity.
In the stage of perfect love, the human being is completely stripped of his own will and totally abandoned to the divine will.
In the state of perfection the soul never loses consciousness of the presence of God; there is a union so intimate and continuous between the soul and God that every time and place can be an occasion to pray, or to be in communion with God. .

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