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Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin, Doctor

April 22



St. Catherine of Siena among saints

Ventura Salimbeni (1568 – 1613)

Cathedral of Siena – Choir

Saint Catherine of Siena’s Story

The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.

She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful, and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.

She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer, and austerity. Gradually, a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.

Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope.

In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Pope Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her “children” and was canonized in 1461.

Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Pope Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue.


Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life. Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions. Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America. The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.

Saint Catherine of Siena is the Patron Saint of:

Fire Prevention


More patronage: against fire; bodily ills; Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA; Europe; illness; Italy; Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Samal, Bataan, Philippines; miscarriages; people ridiculed for their piety; sexual temptation; sick people; sickness; nurses





One Bread, One Body


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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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St. Catherine of Siena

Acts 8:1-8
Psalm 66:1-7
John 6:35-40

the vocation in all locations

“Philip, for example, went down to the town of Samaria and there proclaimed the Messiah.” —Acts 8:5

Philip, the deacon, was a witness for the risen Jesus no matter where he was. He witnessed in Jerusalem and even in Samaria. Philip witnessed to Simon the Magician (Acts 8:13), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:35), and his four daughters who became prophetesses (Acts 21:8-9). He witnessed at home, in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and then in the Ethiopian’s chariot on “the road which goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route” (Acts 8:26). Then the Spirit “snatched Philip away” (Acts 8:39). “Philip found himself at Azotus next, and he went about announcing the good news in all the towns until he reached Caesarea” (Acts 8:40).

Because Philip began as a family man to witness to his family, he was led in stages to witness to the ends of the earth by the effects of the Ethiopian’s conversion. Philip exemplified the last words of Jesus before His Ascension: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Do you witness for the risen Jesus everywhere, especially beginning at home? Do you freely break the unwritten rules against witnessing for Jesus at work, at school, even in some homes, and in countless other places in our secular humanistic culture of death? Where are the places in your life where you are most strongly tempted to join in the exclusion of Jesus? By the power of the Holy Spirit, be like Philip. May you never let your location stop you from living your vocation to witness for the risen Jesus.

Prayer:  Father, fill me with love for Jesus. May I always speak from the abundance of that love (Lk 6:45).

Promise:  “No one who comes will I ever reject.” —Jn 6:37

Praise:  St. Catherine was the 23rd child in her family. The Lord had special plans for her. She greatly influenced public affairs and had a profound impact on the papacy in her time.


Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor


April 29, 2019 (Readings on USCCB website)


O God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love in her contemplation of the Lord’s Passion and her service or your Church, grant, through her intercession, that your people, participating in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of his glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.


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Old Calendar: St. Peter of Verona, martyr; St. Hugh of Cluny (Hist) ; Other Titles: St. Catharine of Siena

Catherine Benincasa, born in Siena at a date that remains uncertain, was favored with visions from the age of seven. Becoming a tertiary of the Dominican Order, she acquired great influence by her life of prayer and extraordinary mortifications as well as by the spread of her spiritual writings. Her continual appeals for civil peace and reform of the Church make her one of the leading figures of the fourteenth century. Worn out by her mortifications and negotiations she died in Rome on April 29, 1380.

According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, St. Catherine’s feast is celebrated on April 30 and today is the feast of St. Peter of Verona. He was born about 1205 at Verona. His parents were Manichaeans, but he was converted and entered the Order of Preachers with the ambition not only of preaching the faith but of giving his life for it. He had his wish, for in the course of his apostolic work he was assassinated by the Manichaeans on the road from Como to Milan in 1252.

Historically today is the feast of St. Hugh of Cluny, a prince related to the sovereign house of the dukes of Burgundy. He was an adviser to nine popes.


St. Catherine of Siena
Catherine, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic.

Unbelievable were her austerities, her miracles, her ecstasies. The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages. The virgin Catherine was espoused to Christ by a precious nuptial ring which, although visible only to her, always remained on her finger.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Against fire; bodily ills; Europe; fire prevention; firefighters; illness; Italy; miscarriages; nurses; nursing services; people ridiculed for their piety; sexual temptation; sick people; sickness; Siena, Italy; temptations.

Symbols: Cross; heart; lily; ring; stigmata.

Things to Do:

St. Peter of Verona
Peter entered the Dominican Order in 1221, the year when St. Dominic died. He was a zealous preacher, and as Inquisitor converted many heretics. While attending school at the age of seventeen, he was asked by his uncle, a heretic, what he was learning. Candidly the boy replied, “The Apostles’ Creed.” Neither threats nor honeyed words from father and uncle were able to shake the boy’s steadfast faith. Years later, when death was near, he once more recited the Apostles’ Creed that he prayed so courageously in his youth. The mortal stab soon fell, and he received the martyr’s crown.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Inquisitors.

Symbol: Dominican with a large knife in or splitting his head; holding a knife; man with a knife in his head and a sword in his breast.

Things to Do:

  • As he lay dying, it is said, Peter wrote the word Credo on the ground with his own blood. To us also may the Creed be a source of blessing in life and in death! To that end we might occasionally meditate on one or another of its articles. Devoutly, reverently the words should pass our lips, especially at Mass. Remember that martyrs’ blood has flowed for all its phrases.
  • Read more about St. Peter of Verona.

St. Hugh of Cluny
St. Hugh was a prince related to the sovereign house of the dukes of Burgundy, and had his education under the tuition of his pious Mother, and under the care of Hugh, Bishop of Auxerre, his great-uncle. From his infancy he was exceedingly given to prayer and meditation, and his life was remarkably innocent and holy.

One day, hearing an account of the wonderful sanctity of the monks of Cluny, under St. Odilo, he was so moved that he set out that moment, and going thither, humbly begged the monastic habit. After a rigid novitiate, he made his profession in 1039, being sixteen years old.

His extraordinary virtue, especially his admirable humility, obedience, charity, sweetness, prudence, and zeal, gained him the respect of the whole community; and upon the death of St. Odilo, in 1049, though only twenty-five years old, he succeeded to the government of that great abbey, which he held sixty-two years.

He received to the religious profession Hugh, Duke of Burgundy, and died on the twenty-ninth of April, in 1109, aged eighty-five.

He was canonized twelve years after his death by Pope Calixtus II.

Excerpted from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894


Doctors of the Catholic Church

Saint Catherine of Siena

detail of the oil on canvas painting 'Saint Catherine of Siena', 17th century by Baldassare Franceschini; Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich, London, England; swiped from Wikimedia Commons

Also known as

  • Caterina Benincasa
  • Catharine of Siena
  • Katharine of Siena



Youngest of 24 children; her father was a wool-dyer. At the age of seven she had a vision in which Jesus appeared with Peter, Paul, and John; Jesus blessed her, and she consecrated herself to Him. Her parents began making arranged marriages for her when she turned 12, but she refused to co-operate, became a Dominican tertiary at age 15, and spent her time working with the poor and sick, attracting others to work with her. Received a vision in which she was in a mystical marriage with Christ, and the Infant Christ presented her with a wedding ring. Some of her visions drove her to become more involved in public life. Counselor to and correspondent with Pope Gregory XI and Pope Urban VI. Stigmatist in 1375. Lived in Avignon, France in 1376, and then in Rome, Italy from 1378 until her death. Friend of Blessed Raymond of Capua who was also her confessor. Proclaimed Doctor of the Church on 4 October 1970.






Additional Information


Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God: The Father is your table, the Son is your food, and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His dwelling in you. Saint Catherine of Siena

Charity is the sweet and holy bond which links the soul with its Creator: it binds God with man and man with God. Saint Catherine of Siena

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. – from On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena

Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind. Saint Catherine of Siena


Daily Gospel CommentarySaint John of the Cross (1542-1591)
Carmelite, Doctor of the Church

The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 2, ch 5.5-7 (trans. ©Institute of Carmelite studies Publications)“What is born of spirit is spirit”We read in Saint John: «No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.» To be reborn in the Holy Spirit during this life is to become most like God in purity, without any mixture of imperfection. Accordingly, pure transformation can be effected – although not essentially – through the participation of union.Here is an example that will provide a better understanding of this explanation. A ray of sunlight shining on a smudgy window is unable to illumine that window completely and transform it into its own light. It could do this if the window were cleaned and polished… The extent of illumination is not dependent on the ray of sunlight but on the window. If the window is totally clean and pure, the sunlight will so transform and illumine it that to all appearances the window will be identical with the ray of sunlight and shine just as the sun’s ray. Although obviously the nature of the window is distinct from that of the sun’s ray, even if the two seem identical, we can assert that the window is the ray or light of the sun by participation.

The soul on which the divine light of God’s being is ever shining, or better, in which it is ever dwelling by nature, is like this window. A soul makes room for God by wiping away all the smudges and smears of creatures, by uniting its will perfectly to God’s; for to love is to labor to divest and deprive oneself for God of all that is not God. When this is done the soul will be illumined by and transformed in God.


Marriage = One Man and One Woman Until Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for April 29, 2019:

St. Catherine of Siena boldly proclaimed her love for Christ. How can you courageously accept your call of discipleship?


Regnum Christi

April 29, 2019 – Eyes of Faith

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

John 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely, he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know my needs better than I do. I turn to your Spirit to teach me what to ask for in this prayer. I want to fulfill your holy will over my life. I love you Lord and I place all my hope in you.


Petition: Lord, increase my sensitivity to your Spirit.


  1. Human Eyes: What do the eyes of our head see? They see the work of God in creation telling us that he loves us. They see creatures as a means to know and respond to our loving Creator. Our eyes see opportunities to exercise the love that we learn from this Creator. They see the mystery of Christ’s love in the Eucharist. They see around us the work of the Spirit in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The eyes are the apparatus of faith and serve us well on our way to the everlasting Kingdom. Is this the case for my own eyes?


  1. Eyes of the Heart: If the things that flow from the heart can defile a man, so too the things that flow from the heart can sanctify a man. The eyes are also the apparatus of the heart. The eyes will focus on what the heart treasures. Christ stated it so clearly: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in your eye is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22).


  1. Eyes of the Soul: “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, speaks to our souls without the noise of words. The eyes of the soul, guided by the same Spirit, help us to see — to relish what is right and always rejoice in his consolation. In this Easter season, the Spirit begins to stir, and the Church begins to chant more fervently: “Veni Sancti Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit!” As members of this Mystical Body it is a compelling duty and a delightful right for us to join in this prayer.


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you promised to send your Holy Spirit upon your Church, and you prepared the disciples on multiple occasions to make themselves ready. Just as the Israelites quickly made ready for the Passover as people prepped for a journey, guide me to be prepared to journey with your Spirit.


Resolution: I will invoke the Holy Spirit in short prayers at three different times today.


One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body

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All Issues > Volume 35, Issue 3

<< Monday, April 29, 2019 >> St. Catherine of Siena
Acts 4:23-31
View Readings
Psalm 2:1-9 John 3:1-8
Similar Reflections


“Grant to Your servants, even as they speak Your words, complete assurance.” �Acts 4:29
On the ninth day of Easter, our true Love, Jesus (see 1 Jn 4:8, 16), gives us holy boldness, complete assurance, absolute confidence (Acts 4:29; Heb 10:22), “parrhesia, straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, the certainty of being loved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2778). When we pray with this assurance and confidence, we are “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:31).

Will you accept the risen Jesus’ gift of what the Catechism quote above calls “humble boldness”? If you accept this gift, you are committing yourself to use it � to witness for the risen Christ even if you will be persecuted. If you are in love with the risen Christ, that love will impel you (2 Cor 5:14) to speak up for Jesus. Therefore, such boldness may be just what you want and need. However, if your love for God, Who is Love, is cold (see Mt 24:12), then you would not want this humble boldness from your true Love on this ninth day of Easter.

The risen Jesus is asking us the same question He asked Peter: “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15, 16, 17) Jesus is breathing on you and commanding you: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22) of love (see Gal 5:22). Say “yes” to Love. Receive the gifts of love and boldness.

Prayer: Father, on this day in the season of Easter, give me a greater love for You than ever before.
Promise: “I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.” —Jn 3:5
Praise: St. Catherine of Siena had converted thousands by her words and actions as a young adult.


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