Born in Florence, Italy, in 1522, Saint Catherine was baptized Alexandrina. When she was only six years old, her father placed her in the convent of Monticelli in Florence. Her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun there and she and the other sisters watched over young Alexandrina and administered her catechesis. When Alexandrina was a teenager she returned home for a brief visit.
Soon afterwards, at the age of 14, she entered the convent of the Dominican nuns at Prat in Tuscany, taking the name Catherine. When she was still a young woman she was made Mistress of Novices, then sub prioress. At the age of only 25, she became perpetual prioress. Over time, her reputation for devotion and holiness grew and she received much attention and many visitors. Like all very holy persons, others wanted to be near her and be advised by her. Three of these later became popes: Marcellus II, Clement VII and Leo XI. Also among the illustrious who were drawn to Catherine were Cerveni, Alexander de Medici and Aldo Brandini. Catherine also corresponded with Philip Neri and through an apparent miracle while still alive, reportedly appeared to Philip while he was in Rome. After a long illness, Catherine went home to the Lord in 1589.
During her life, Catherine experienced what is called the “Ecstasy of the Passion” every Thursday from noon until Friday at 4:00 p.m. This continued for 12 years.
Father, we pray that St. Catherine will continue to influence people on earth to be great spiritual leaders just as she did while here among us. She inspired many people who in turn inspired many others. Give us the grace to die to ourselves, Lord, that we may be vessels, like Catherine, through whom you reach many. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Polyeucte (259), Roman officer