CATHERINE OF SIENA
1347 - 1380
"Perfect prayer is achieved not with
many words but with loving desire."
Catherine of Siena was born Caterina di Giacomo di Benincasa,
daughter of a wool dyer. She was the 24th of 25 children.
At the age of 15, in defiance of her family's efforts to have her marry,
she cut off her hair. By 18 she became a tertiary of the Dominican order
and served the poor as a nurse.
Deeply devoted to intense prayer, she wrote a treatise on the mystical life
and corresponded extensively with people who sought her spiritual counsel.
In 1376 she met with Pope Gregory XI in Avignon,
attempting to convince him to move the papacy back to Rome.
She herself moved to Rome in 1378,
gathering a circle of disciplines until her death in 1380.
Catherine’s commitment to simplicity of life, poverty, humility, and deep love of God
stood in stark contrast to the wealth and power of the institutional church.
She was unafraid to lift up a voice of protest
and to communicate God's own concern
over the state of the church and the sins of the clergy
"The soul rises up, restless with tremendous desire for God's honor
and the salvation of souls. She has for some time exercised herself in virtue
and has become accustomed to dwelling in the cell of self-knowledge
in order to know better God's goodness toward her,
since upon knowledge follows love.
And loving, she seeks to pursue truth and clothe herself in it."