Catherine Benincasa, born in 1347, was the youngest
(one of my sources says the 23rd) of twenty-five children of a wealthy
dyer of Sienna (or Siena). At the age of six, she had a vision of Christ
in glory, surrounded by His saints. From that time on, she spent most of
her time in prayer and meditation, over the opposition of her parents,
who wanted her to be more like the average girl of her social class.
Eventually they gave in, and at the age of sixteen she joined the Third
Order of St. Dominic
(First Order = friars, Second Order = nuns, Third Order = laypersons),
where she became a nurse, caring for patients with leprosy and advanced
cancer whom other nurses disliked to treat.
She began to acquire a reputation as a person of
insight and sound judgment, and many persons from all walks of life
sought her spiritual advice, both in person and by letter. (We have a
book containing about four hundred letters from her to bishops, kings,
scholars, merchants, and obscure peasants.) She persuaded many priests
who were living in luxury to give away their goods and to live simply...
Catherine, the 25th child of Giacomo and Lapa
Benincasa, was born March 25, 1347. As a child she was loved by all for
when she spoke to anyone they were filled with joy. She grew up in the
shadow of the Dominican Church in Siena. When she was about seven she
decided to promise her life to God. When her parents decided to betroth
her she cut off her hair. This angered her parents who deprived her of a
private place of prayer and dismissed the kitchen maid. Catherine was
made to do all the household work. She served so lovingly that her
family wondered at her. She imagined her father to be Jesus, her mother
the Blessed Mary, and the other members of the house Jesus followers...