The feast day of St. Catherine of Siena is celebrated by the Catholic Church on April 29. St. Catherine was the 25th child to Giacomo and Lapa Benincase. Her father was a wealthy wool dyer in Northern Italy. She began having mystical experiences at the age of six, seeing guardian angels clearly. She also had visions of Heaven, hell and purgatory. She consecrated herself to Christ at the age of seven.
At the age of 16, Catherine became a Dominican tertiary (lay Dominican), continuing to have visions of Christ, Mary and the saints. In many of her ecstasies, Catherine fell into fire; however, she was untouched by the flames. This is why she is the patron saint against fire.
St. Catherine received a divine call to enter the public life . She began writing letters to princes and republics of Italy. She was consulted by papal legates. She persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon and reform the clergy and the Papal States. She referred to the pope as "sweet Christ on earth". St. Catherine also cared for the sick (working among lepers) , served the poor and worked tirelessly to convert sinners. St. Catherine's reputation for holiness grew.
On the 4th Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, (the wounds of Christ). They were only visible after her death.
St. Catherine's writings are considered historical in the Church. They include: "The Dialogue; a collection of 400 letters and a series of 'Prayers'.
At the age of 33, on April 29, 1380, Catherine died of a mysterious and painful illness which came on without notice. It was not diagnosed. Her body was discovered to be in-corrupt in the year 1430.
St. Catherine is the patron saint against fire, illness and miscarriage. In 1970, Pope Paul VI declared St. Catherine of Siena to be a Doctor of the Church.
The following prayers were written by St. Catherine of Siena
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come into my heart;
draw it to Thee by Thy power, O my God,
and grant me charity with a filial fear.
Preserve me, O ineffable love, from every evil thought,
warm me, inflame me with Thy dear love,
and every pain will seem light to me.
My Father my sweet Lord, help me in all my actions.
Jesus, Love, Jesus, Love.
Prayer to the Trinity
Eternal Trinity, Godhead,
mystery deep as the sea,
You could give me no greater
gift that the gift of yourself.
For you are a fire ever burning,
and never consumed,
which itself consumes all selfish love
that fills my being.