Saint Catherine of Siena
Member of the order of St. Dominic
Saint Catherine of Siena was the daughter of a tradesman, and the youngest of a large family. With the first development of intelligence her religious passion revealed itself. When a child, she believed herself to have seen a holy vision, and became convinced that God Himself had come to call her to a better life. She gave up childish amusements, and, fasting and praying, even scourging herself, she filled her life with penances in the manner of the grown0up holy men and women about her.
Arrived at the age of maidenhood, she cut off her hair to make marriage impossible, and her infuriated mother sought to break her stubborn spirit by compelling her to take the place of a stubborn spirit by compelling her to take the place of a servant, kept for rough work in the kitchen. But Catherine made religious play out of her parents’ harshness, and went about diffusing radiance and a sober joy, bewildering those who wanted to see her crushed and penitent. The system of ill-treatment was soon abandoned, her father gave consent to the pursuance of a religious vocation, and Catherine became a member of the order of St. Dominic.
At the age of 18 she began to work in the world by her constant attendance at the hospitals and among the lepers. Gradually she extended her gracious influence to fallen sinners, and unfortunates condemned to death, her smile like some living radiance passing into the hearts of those she looked at. Forestalling the Christian Scientists, she healed the sick by prayer, while her mere enticements brought about the end of many virulent dissensions among the war-like Sienese.
During fifteen years she continued her noble work as a consoler and peace-maker in a violent age, beloved by the people, and listened to by popes and cardinals.
At the age of 33, her physical strength exhausted, she died, surrounded by a passion of regret and tenderness, and it is said, her body, until her burial, retained a wonderful beauty and fragrance.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.