Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine of Siena was born to Giacomo and Lapa Benincasa at Siena, Italy, in 1347, the second youngest of a very large family. She began to experience God mystically before she turned seven. Frequent visions of Christ, Mary, angels and saints inspired her holy, austere lifestyle and prompted her to take the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries at age 16, despite her parents' wish for her to marry and the untimely death of two of her sisters. Enabled by a miracle to read and write, the formerly illiterate St. Catherine authored "The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena" and hundreds of letters asking for peace with the Papal States and the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome. Her passionate yet humble pleas persuaded the Pope to return to Rome, where she herself died at the age of 33. She was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461, and her feast is celebrated on April 29.
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