Saint of the Day – 30 April – St Catherine of Siena OP (1347-1380) Virgin. Revisiting St Catherine with Fr Weninger.
St Catherine of Sienna, Virgin
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
Sienna, in the Tuscan District, is the favoured place where, in 1347, Caterina / Catherine, first saw the light of this world. Her life from her childhood, was a continual exercise of the choicest virtues but, at the same time, a perpetual communication of Divine Grace. When scarcely five years of age, she was called “the little Saint” on account of her quietness and her love of prayer. Already, at that time, she greeted the Virgin Mother upon every step of the staircase with the words of the Angels: “Ave Maria!” When six years old, our Lord appeared to her with the Apostles Peter, Paul and John, together with St Dominic, looked tenderly at her and gave His blessing. This was the beginning of many and extraordinary visions with which the holy virgin was graced until her death. Her heart from this time was filled with intense love of God. She read most carefully the lives of the Saints and endeavoured to follow their example. In her seventh year she Consecrated her virginity to God. Her only pleasure was solitude, prayer, work and self-immolation.
Persuaded by her sister, she once began to pay more attention to her dresses and to curl her hair after the prevailing fashion of the world. This lasted, however, only a short while, for she became aware, during her prayers, how much God was displeased with such vanities and how long her pious sister would have to suffer, on account of it in purgatory. Hencfprward, she refrained from it and repented of her folly, as long as she lived. Her parents desired her to marry but she replied: “I am already wedded to a most noble Spouse and shall never bestow my love on a human being” and cutting off her hair, she covered her head with a veil.
To drive all thoughts of entering a Convent out of her mind, her parents burdened her with the entire care of the house, as well as the most difficult work, so that no leisure was left her, either for prayer, or devotional reading. This was at first a sore trial to her,but she was told by Chris, to build a cell in her heart, where, in the midst of her employments, she might pray, namely, by offering her work to God and by pious ejaculations. Following these directions of Christ, her soul became filled with sweet consolation and she manifested, under the greatest drudgery, a most extraordinary happiness. This caused her parents to change their resolution and they permitted her to live according to her vocation. Hence, she now began to live in a more retired manner and with more austerity than before.
Bread, herbs and water were her only nourishment, two bare boards her bed. She was girded by a pointed chain which she continued to wear until a few hours before her death, when at the instance of her Confessor, she laid it aside. She only allowed herself one or two hours of sleep during the nigh,; the remainder she employed in prayer or in the contemplation of the Divine Mysteries. She scourged herself three times daily, sometimes until she drew blood. These austerities she observed from her eighteenth year until her death. After she had been received into the Third Order of St Dominic, she aspired most fervently after sanctification but Satan endeavoured, with the most loathsome imaginings and temptations, to trouble the repose of her soul and pervert her thoughts. Catherine, however, increasing her penance and her prayers, withstood him bravely but still, without feeling more relieved or more quiet. At length, when, one day, Christ appeared to her, she said:
“O Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
“I was in thy heart,” answered the Saviour.
“What” said she, “hast Thou been in my heart which was filled with such abominable thoughts? Hast thou then consented to them?!” “Hast thou been pleased with them?” asked Christ.
“Oh, no!” replied Catherine, “it was most painful to me to be afflicted with them.”
“And this was thy merit” said Christ “I have seen how thou hast battled and I have assisted thee.“
Thus ended her temptations which were succeeded by the most comforting visions of our Lord, His Blessed Mother and other Saints, the number of which is known only to God.
She frequently saw Christ as a lovely little Child in the holy Sacrament, for which Divine Mystery she entertained the most fervent devotion. She partook of it almost daily but always with renewed piety and shedding a flood of tears. It was very remarkable that the receiving of it preserved also her temporal life, for it is a fact that one year she partook of nothing else but the Blessed Eucharist from Ash Wednesday until Ascension day. When she was required, as an act of obedience, to take some food, she suffered so greatly by so doing that the request was not repeated.
After some time, Christ commanded her to be kind and charitable to her neighbours and she began to nurse the sick with an indescribable loving care. Among others, she attended to two women, of whom one was afflicted with leprosy, the other with cancer. In nursing them, she evinced the most perfect self-control. She pressed the offensive matter out of the sores and cleansed them with water. Feeling disgust, she drank the purulent matter which she had kept in a vessel mixed with water, saying to her Confessor that she had never tasted anything more agreeable. Christ appeared to her on the following night, praised her self-mortification and rewarded her with great interior peace and tranquillity.
It was an awful cross for her to bear, when this very woman, whom she had so tenderly nursed, instigated by Satan, not only complained of her but slandered her in the whole City. But Christ visited her and presenting to her two crowns, one of gold, the other of thorns, said: “Which of these two do you desire?” Catherine answered: “Lord, I desire to resemble Thee in this life and it is a joy to me to suffer as Thou didst:” and with these words she took the crown of thorns and pressed it upon her head. Christ, upon this, commanded her to continue her charity towards the sick which she did with unprecedented patience and kindness.
Her love towards those whose souls were diseased, was still more tender and she offered for such, her prayers and many penances, through which means, she obtained from God, the conversion of many sinners, who otherwise would have gone to destruction. She prayed three whole days for a certain woman who was dangerously ill and, who hated the Saint most bitterly. At last, she said to Christ: “I will not move from this place until Thou givest me this soul.”
He graciously complied with her request by converting the woman and giving her a happy death.
She was also gifted by God with the grace of reading the inmost thoughts of those who approached her, hence, her exhortations were always addressed to their weakest spot. If a lascivious person came near her, she always perceived so terrible an odour that she had to cover her nose and mouth. Many other graces God had bestowed upon her, to relate all of which would take too much space.
One of the most remarkable of these was, that Christ had impressed the marks of His Five Holy Wounds upon her but in such a manner that, exteriorly, nothing was to be seen, while she suffered all their pains. She had prayed to Christ for this grace in order that it might remain unknown to the world. The many miracles which she performed on the sick and possessed and the heavenly wisdom with which she was filled, secured her, not only the highest regard of the people but also of the prelates of the Church, as well as of worldly princes. She was even sent in times of strife and contention, as a messenger of peace and the effect of her wonderful talents, more than surpassed all expectations.
At Rome, whither she had been called by the Pope, she became dangerously sick and during four months, she suffered excruciating pain. She ceased not, however, praising and giving thanks to God. The Almighty, whose judgement, although inscrutable, is always just, sent her a last bitter trial after she had received the holy Sacrament – Satan reproached her that in her actions and ecstasies, she had only sought her own aggrandisement. But she overcame the enemy of her peace and, after this anguish of soul, she had a most consoling and tender discourse with Christ, Who visibly appeared to her and into Whose Hands she breathed her chaste soul, in the thirty-third year of her life.
Her last words were:
“Lord, into Thy Hands I commend my spirit.“
4 thoughts on “Saint of the Day – 30 April – St Catherine of Siena OP (1347-1380) Virgin”
St Catherine is one of my favorite saints, and her “Dialogue” with God the Father is unique and unsurpassed among mystical writings. I republished it as well as her lesser known Letters (both on Amazon).
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Absolutely true Darrell – she, in so many ways, is totally unique and unparalleled in her life, her writings, her mysticism, her youth and her permanence in our hearts and minds.
I love her ability to oppose the times in her writings – then and now!
Which publishing house do you work for ?
Thanks for the comment Darrell,
I just self-publish books thru Kindle Direct Publishing, and they go to Amazon. It costs nothing but those two get most of the money from book sales. I edited about 25, mostly Catholic Classics, and wrote 5 of my own.
Have you looked into what happened at the 1958 papal conclave? Lots of info at whitesmoke1958.com and astounding interviews with the trailblazing researcher into it at
Did you know Pius XII read the Third Secret of Fatima with a number of chosen cardinals in 1957? One of them was the American Cardinal Samuel Stritch. It’s not what the Vatican revealed in 2000. It’s in Interview 1 from 6:10-9:50.
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Thank you Darrell.
I am most impressed by your credentials – I am constantly horrified by some translations and edits of Catholic Classics so it is good to know that you are busy in this field.
Thank you for these links – now that I am offline for a while I will investigate and read them. I am most grateful. They will certainly help me to explain certain issues to our children.
We are struggling in such difficult times for the Church – lots of questions and often not enough answers.
Bless you and thanks again.