St. Catherine of Siena
Born: March 25, 1347
Died: April 29, 1380
Feast Day: April 30
Patron Saint of: fire prevention, Italy
Catherine was the 23rd of 25 children; the 24th, her twin, died at birth. At a very young and tender age, Catherine took a vow of virginity and devoted herself to her faith with continual and severe penance wearing a hair shirt under her clothing and fasting. At 6 years of age, she experienced a vision of Our Lord near the church of the Friar Preachers in the Valle Piatta. In the vision, Our Lord was clothed in pontifical garb with a tiara on top of his head and sat upon a throne surrounded by Saints Peter, Paul and John the Evangelist. Soon after that vision she joined the Order of Saint Dominic. At 17, she became a tertiary in the Third Order. After three years of seclusion, she became very active in the community serving the sick and the prisoners. During her lifetime, Catherine was known to have been blessed with the ability to expel demons, healing the sick, levitating during prayer, having visions of Our Lord and the Blessed Mother, sharing in sufferings of Christ with the stigmata, and having received a gift from Our Lord. The stigmata was visible only to her during her lifetime, but after her death, was visible to all. The gift she received from Our Lord, that only she could see, was a gold ring with four precious stones surrounding a diamond, signifying a spiritual marriage. Catherine was instrumental in convincing Gregory XI to return the Papacy from Avignon to Rome. In 1970, Catherine was only the 2nd woman in the history of the Church to be declared a Doctor of the Church.