St Catherine of Siena


'Be the person God intended you to be 

and you will set the world on fire.' 

(St Catherine of Siena)

Catherine was born in Siena, Italy in 1347.  She was a twin and the last of 24 children of Giacomo of Benincasa, cloth dyer, and Lapa of Puccio dei Piagneti.


As advisor of princes and pontiffs, Catherine helped shape the destiny of the church of her time. Her ‘Dialogue’ with Jesus, the 387 letters and eight prayers that she wrote, reveals an amazing woman with a passion for furthering the work of the Church and for showing the love of Christ to those in need. Catherine was a member of the Dominican Third Order. This meant that she chose not to marry, but to devote her life to preaching and doing good deeds as a layperson.


Catherine’s major accomplishment was in persuading the Pope to return from Avignon, France to the Vatican in Italy. Turmoil in Rome and conflict with the emperor had forced the popes to retreat to Avignon in southern France. Catherine shared the popular Italian desire to restore the papacy to Rome.


More than anything, a dual passion for God and for the welfare of others consumed Catherine. Catherine died when she was only 33. She was canonised in 1461 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970. She is the patron saint of Italy and all of Europe. Her feast day is celebrated on 29th April each year.