St Catherine of Siena.

posted by: Joan Vine | on: Wednesday, 22 August 2018, 15:30


St Catherine of Siena.

St Catherine of Siena.

Catherine was born in Siena in 1347 and wanted at a very early age to devote herself to God firstly against the wishes of her parents and then against sceptics who doubted the heavenly visions she received. Some thought that she was a saint, others saw her as a religious fanatic and still others as a hypocrite. She was interviewed by religious leaders and theologians, all of whom found her to be genuine.

Catherine devoted her life to nursing, caring for the most seriously ill patients. She was often able to convert sinners who had formerly taunted her and maliciously gossiped about her. She also visited prisoners on death row to work for their conversion so that they could receive the Last Sacrament.

The title “Patroness of Italy” was bestowed upon Catherine because of her industrious work persuading the Pope to return to Italy. For more than 70 years, the popes had been in voluntary exile in Avignon because of the wretched conditions in Rome and most of central Italy at that time. Apparently, it had become so dangerous that, in 1305 Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, moved the papacy to Avignon, to property that the church had owned for centuries.

Seven popes made Avignon home from 1305 until 1377, when Catherine travelled to the papal estates and pleaded with the Roman Pontiff to return to Rome. Catherine’s reputation as a respected mystic proved valuable, as her request was granted, and the papal court was brought back to Rome.

St Catherine died on 29th April 1380. Pope Urban VI conducted her funeral service and burial in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The devotion around Catherine of Siena developed rapidly after her demise. She was canonised in 1461, declared patron saint of Rome in 1866 and of Italy in 1939. She was the first woman declared a “Doctor of the Church” by Pope

Paul VI. She was declared patron saint of Europe in 1999 by Pope John Paul II and is also the patron saint of journalists, media, and all communication professions.


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