St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
From the glories of the contemplative life, to the trials of political affairs. The youngest of her parents’ twenty five children, Catherine was born in Siena. Catherine is one of the great mystics in the Church. Already as a young girl, she began to have mystical experiences and gave her life to Christ. While a young adolescent, her parents sought for her to improve her appearance and seek a husband. Instead, Catherine cut off her hair. Her parents did not understand her piety, treated her harshly, made her do servile jobs around the house, and denied her any solitude. However, Catherine bore all this most patiently and conversed with God in the solitude of her heart. In time, her parents relented and allowed Catherine a room in which to live in solitude. Catherine received the habit of St. Dominic, and she remained in solitude for three years. After this time, she experienced a mystical marriage with the Lord Jesus, and so ended her life of solitude. From this time on, Catherine worked for restoring peace and unity in the world and in the Church. She was able to dispel many feuds, and she was able to bring Pope Gregory XI back to Rome (the papacy had been in Avignon, France for decades at this point). Sadly, when Gregory XI died and Urban VI was elected, a great schism arose in the Church with an election of an anti-pope in Avignon. Catherine worked tirelessly to unite the Church under Pope Urban VI. The Dialogue is a great spiritual treasure that Catherine has left to the Church. She died at the age of thirty three.
Father, we praise you today because you revealed to St. Catherine the unsearchable mysteries of your own life and gave her a special love for your Church. She contemplated you in constant prayer and pleaded that discord might give way to unity. Obedient and humble, she challenged the Church of Christ to be mindful of its mission and be a faithful spouse of Christ, holy spotless until the end of time. May we follow her example and benefit from her prayers.