St. Catherine of Siena
Who exactly was Catherine of Siena? The following extract has been taken from the book "Catherine of Siena - Woman of Faith" by Sister Jean David Finley.
"Catherine Benincasa, the 23rd child of a prosperous dyer, was born in Siena on March 25 1347. At the age of six, Catherine had a religious experience that changed the whole direction of her life. Until 1367, she lived as a contemplative in her own home. During that period, she also became a member of the Mantellate, a group of laywomen affiliated with the Dominican Order.
"Then, slowly at the Lord's command, Catherine left her solitude, reaching out to help the needy of Siena - the pensioners, the sick, and the poor. By 1370, her world had expanded to include people from all walks of life. She became known as a peacemaker, a healer and above all, a prophet.
"In the short span of ten years, with the help of secretaries, Catherine sent out over 400 letters, many of them to leaders of both Church and State. These letters and the spiritual treatise known as the Dialogue are her legacy to the Church.
"During the last five years of her life, Catherine came into close contact with both Popes, Gregory XI, whom she persuaded to return to Rome, and his successor, Urban VI. More than once, she served as the papal emissary to the city states in revolt. At the beginning of the Schism in 1378, Urban VI called her to Rome, but all Catherine's efforts to prevent the spread of the Schism were in vain. Worn out by her attempts to restore unity and peace, Catherine died in Rome on April 29 1380 and her body was laid in the church of the Minerva where it remains today."