Happy Feast Day! 13 Quick Facts about St. Catherine of Siena
Today is the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena!
Quick facts to whet your palette:
- Catherine had a naturally cheerful disposition. We also surmise that she was her mother's favorite child.
- Speaking of, Catherine's mother was loving but overbearing. Monna Lapa did not understand her daughter or her daughter's vocation and her tears and interference often tested Catherine's patience.
- Catherine's father was more understanding of her strange vocation; he made provision for her to live as a hermit for a time in a 3-by-9 foot room at the back of their house - a luxury for a medieval middle-class family.
- Catherine was a mystic early in her life.
- Though Catherine was a Dominican, she was not a nun. Instead, Catherine was part of a Sienese Dominican tertiary group known as the Mantellate. Until Catherine joined, the Mantellate only included widows among their ranks; Catherine's desire to take vows of virginity as a Mantellate caused quite a stir.
- She also caused quite a stir by traipsing unladylike around Siena, and then the world, doing works of mercy: feeding the poor, tending the sick, and admonishing Popes.
- Consequently, a lot of people distrusted her. She didn't let it stop her.
- Catherine is commonly credited with convincing Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return to Rome.
- Catherine had the stigmata, though hidden.
- Though she could not read, Catherine wanted to pray the Divine Office so badly that God gave her the grace of doing so.
- Catherine thought her inability to eat anything other than the Eucharist was a trial, not a super-cool miracle.
- Catherine wrote to everyone. Thanks to the ready assistance of several secretaries, she kept up a lively correspondence with hundreds of people, from world leaders to friends back home.
- Pope Paul VI named Catherine a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
Bonus: in honor of the 800th anniversary of the Order, all members of the Dominican family who participate in a Jubilee celebration or make a pilgrimage to the churches and chapels of the Dominican family can receive a Plenary Indulgence. And the feast of St. Catherine is a good day to do so! We don't have anything Dominican-y around here, but my husband rearranged his work schedule today so that I can at least get to Mass. Good man.
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!