During an outbreak of the plague, St. Catherine of Siena was born March 25, 1347. Though her family was large in number, half of her siblings did not survive childhood. At the age of 16, her parents attempted to get Catherine to marry the widow of her sister, Bonaventura. St. Catherine resisted by cutting her hair and fasting until her parents gave in and let her do as she wished.
Eventually, St. Catherine joined the Third Order of St. Dominic in order to associate with the religious sisters while staying at home and taking care of her family. Throughout her life, she sought to give things away to the poor, even her family’s food and clothes.
At the age of 21, she had a mystical experience which she described as her “mystical marriage to Christ.” During this vision St. Catherine received a ring that only she could see. After this vision, she reentered public life and went about aiding the sick and the poor. As St. Catherine of Siena traveled abroad, she concerned herself with the politics of the time. She was a major figure in restoring the Papacy to Rome and bringing about peace during conflicts in Italy.
In 1375, Catherine began writing the letters which would later be compiled into her Dialogue, for which she would be declared a Doctor of the Church.
Nearing the end of her life, this young saint became ill and could not eat or drink. She lost the use of her legs, and finally passed on April 29, 1380. She is remembered as the patroness of fire prevention, illness, the United States, Italy, miscarriages, people ridiculed for their faith, sexual temptation, and nurses. Her feast is celebrated on the anniversary of her death.
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