She was an amazing saint who had a great impact on the world.
1. She had 24 siblings
Caterina Benincasa grew up in Siena, Italy, the 23rd child of Lapa Piagenti and Giacomo di Benincasa. Unfortunately, about half of their children died at an early age, including Catherine’s twin sister. Suffice to say, it was a busy household.
2. Catherine had a vision of Jesus at age 5
As a young girl Catherine had a vision of Christ seated in glory with Sts. Peter, Paul and John next to him, and it inspired her to make a private vow, dedicating her life to God. It was only the beginning of the numerous mystical visions she experienced in her lifetime.
3. She had a private cell in her parent’s home
When she refused to get married, Catherine’s parents recognized the holiness of their daughter and made a private cell — like the room of a nun — that Catherine could live and pray in.
4. Even though she looks like a nun, Catherine was a lay woman
Feeling called to a unique vocation, Catherine became a Dominican tertiary, or “Third Order” member and — as was common for the time — was permitted to wear the habit of the Dominican Order. She was active in the world, catechizing the young, giving spiritual direction, caring for the sick and serving the poor.
5. Catherine wasn’t afraid to confront anyone, even the pope
She traveled to Avignon, France, where Pope Gregory XI was residing and spent three months trying to convince him to return to Rome. Going against his closest advisors, Gregory eventually did go back to Rome and returned the papacy to the Eternal City.