St. Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine was born in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347. When she was 16, her sister, Bonaventura, died, leaving her husband a widower. Catherine’s parents offered her as a replacement, but she refused. To further protest, she cut her hair short and started a strict fast in order to ruin her appearance. Finally her parents relented.
She chose to live as a Third Order of St. Dominic meaning that she was a laywoman who was affiliated with the order although she did not live in the convent. She was taught by Dominican nuns.
When she was 21, she experienced a, “mystical marriage to Christ.” Catherine had a heart for the poor; she frequently gave away her food and clothing to the needy.
Catherine wrote many influential letters that eventually lead to her being named a Doctor of the Church. Catherine died on April 29, 1380 after being ill for several months. She was canonized by Pope Pius II on June 29, 1461. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI on October 4, 1970.