Doctor of the Church (1347-1380)
+ Catherine was born in Siena, Italy, and was the 25th child of a wealthy cloth merchant. As a child, Catherine began to have mystical experiences of Christ that inspired her to dedicate her life to prayer and penance.
+ Her life inspired many women and men to follow her, including elite members of society and the clergy.
+ In 1365 Catherine became a Dominican Tertiary and began to receive spiritual guidance from a Dominican priest, Blessed Raymond of Capua.
+ Although she could not write, Catherine maintained extensive correspondence and her influence extended to the papal court, then in Avignon, France. Through her influence, Pope Greogry XI returned to Rome. Catherine dedicated her life to working for peace and renewal within the Church.
+ Catherine of Siena is honored as one of the greatest mystics of the Church and her Book of the Dialogues—which she dictated to Blessed Raymond and other secretaries—provides wonderful insights into her spirituality.
+ Saint Catherine of Siena died on April 29, 1380, at the age of 33. She was canonized shortly after her death and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
The Church has honored 36 men and women with the tile of “Doctor of the Church” in recognition for their important contributions to theology and spirituality. Of those, only four are women: Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Hildegard of Bingen, and, of course, Saint Catherine of Siena. Saint Catherine is the only lay person to be honored as a Doctor of the Church.
“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.”—Saint Catherine of Siena
O God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love
in her contemplation of the Lord’s Passion
and her service of 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,
one God, for ever and ever.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.