Easter: April 29th
Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Other Commemorations: St. Hugh of Cluny, Abbot (RM) ; Other Titles: St. Catharine of Siena
Here is a wise virgin, from among the number of the prudent, who went forth with lighted lamp to meet Christ, alleluia.
St. Catherine of Siena was born Catherine Benincasa 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.
The Roman Martyrology also includes today 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
Patronage: against bodily ills; against fire; against illness; against miscarriages; against sexual temptation; against sickness; against temptations; fire prevention; firefighters; nurses; nursing services; people ridiculed for their piety; sick people; Theta Phi Alpha sorority; Europe (declared by Pope John Paul II); Italy; diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania; diocese of Gamboma, Congo; diocese of Macau, China; Siena, Italy; Varazze, Italy
Symbols and Representation: Cross; heart; lily; ring; stigmata; crown of thorns
Highlights and Things to Do:
- If you have never done so today would be a good time to read some of St. Catherine's Dialogue or purchase a copy.
- Learn more about St. Catherine:
- Find quotes from St. Catherine of Siena at the Catholic Reader.
- See her statue in St. Peter's Basilica Colonnade.
- Read 8 Things to Know and Share About St. Catherine of Siena at the National Catholic Register.
- Learn more about the Order of Preachers or Dominicans founded by St. Dominic.
- See Catholic Cuisine for some clever food ideas for this saint.
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
Patronage: against fever
Highlights and Things to Do: