Adrian Dominican Institute for Mission and Leadership

Adrian Dominican Institute for Mission and Leadership

On April 29th, Dominicans celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, one of only four women who hold the title Doctor of the Church.

Caterina Benincasa, the youngest of twenty-three children, was born in Siena, Tuscany, Italy, on March 25, 1347. Many of her siblings died young, including her twin sister who died in infancy. The family home still exists in Siena as a museum.

Caterina was always a spiritual child, At the age of sixteen, she became a tertiary, or third order Dominican, by taking simple vows while living at home. She gained a reputation for holiness and asceticism.

In her early twenties, she began to serve poor and sick persons. Eventually, she moved beyond her local community, began to travel, and promote church reform.

Catherine is the patron saint of Europe, Italy, and the US, of nurses and the sick, for people ridiculed for piety, and against fire. Catherine died in Rome of a stroke on April 29, 1380, at the age of thirty-three. Her body is resting at Rome’s Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church, though her head is preserved in Siena’s Basilica of San Domenico.

Two of Catherine’s famous exhortations are:'

  • “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
  • “You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love.”