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7 Extraordinary facts about St. Catherine of Siena (Photos)

7 Extraordinary facts about St. Catherine of Siena

Public Domain | Flickr Harshil Shah | CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED | Collage by Aleteia

John Touhey - published on 04/29/24

By loving God and following his plan for her, St. Catherine of Siena had an impact on the Church and the world that no one could have possibly foreseen.

Born in 1347 to a large family, there was little reason to believe that Caterina Benincasa’s life would be any different from the thousands of other Sienese women of her time.

It was expected at the time that Catherine would someday marry and have children – or, alternatively, that she might become a nun. Yet Catherine turned convention on its head by doing neither of th0se things.

From an early age, the woman who we know as St. Catherine of Siena had a burning desire to serve God totally. As a young girl, Catherine had experiences that can only be described as mystical. She saw visions of Jesus, experienced miracles, and was even seen by her mother to levitate up and down the stairs of their house.

A heart that burned

The great novelist Sigrid Undset wrote a book about St. Catherine of Siena, and describes her sense of her vocation and mission in this way:

Catherine’s heart burned to see them all saved, all these poor souls who had cut themselves off from the love of God which she had experienced in such a way as to give her a foretaste of the bliss of heaven. She wished that she could become one of those who saved the souls of men … Often when she saw the preaching friars go past their house she noted where they trod, and when they had gone, she went out and reverently kissed the spot touched by their feet.

These feelings and experiences were uncommon, but there had been other holy men and women whose holiness stood out and found expression in unusual ways. What distinguished Catherine from all the others who had gone before her was the tremendous practical impact that she would have on the Church and world.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,” Catherine once wrote. This humble woman, who wanted nothing more than to live in prayer and communion with Jesus in a bare cell, would go on to influence popes and the leaders throughout Europe – not out of a desire for power, but to simply fulfill God’s plan for her life.

View the PHOTO GALLERY below to learn 7 extraordinary facts about St. Catherine of Siena.

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