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The short story of St. Bernadette of Lourdes – Today 16 April - Her Feast Day
Saint Catherine of Siena
“The Lady with the Lamp”
 
Born in the Tuscan town of Siena in 1347, Catherine was the youngest of 25 children and lived in a time of plague, in a time of division within the church, in a time when some thought the end was near.
 
A vision of Christ sitting with the Apostles Peter, Paul and John at the age of 6 years influenced Catherine greatly and shortly Catherine made the decision to follow a religious path in life.

Living within close proximity to the Basilica of St. Dominic, Catherine would fervently attend Mass each day and learned to venerate the Blessed Virgin, prostrating herself on the ground with the friars as they sung the Salve Regina at the end of Compline.
 
 
To the disappointment of her parents who had great plans for their daughter, Catherine made clear to them that her true plan was to follow God. Catherine’s parents accepted their daughter’s decision and converted a basement room which would become for Catherine a place of isolation and haven of prayer.
During the years that would follow Catherine would join the Third Order of Dominicans and was content to be isolated in her cell in prayer, going out only to attend daily Mass in the nearby basilica. After three years of isolation, Our Lord would appear to Catherine in her cell and ask her to go out amongst the people of Siena to bring the news of salvation to the citizens.
 
St Bernadette at the grotto
 
House of St. Catherine of Siena
 
 
Catherine would become known as “The Lady with the Lamp”, the lamp a symbol of the great charity that she showed as she walked through the streets of Siena, distributing food to the poor and attending the hospital where she would help the sick and encourage those dying to receive the last rights from the friars. In every sick patient she saw Jesus.
Catherine loved the Church, despite the corruption that existed. She petitioned for peace and was instrumental in persuading the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome. On the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, while Catherine was in Pisa, she received the gift of the stigmata, the marks of which would not become visible until after her death.
 
Catherine began dictating letters to scribes. She is credited with composing over 400 letters, her Dialogue, which is her definitive work, and her prayers. These works proved so influential that in 1970 Saint Catherine would be declared a Doctor of the Church.
House of St Bernadette
Catherine passed her final days surrounded by her Dominican sisters and brothers in Rome. One evening in January 1380, while dictating a letter to Pope Urban VI, she suffered a stroke. She had a second stroke while at prayer in St. Peter’s Basilica and died three weeks later, on the 29th of April 1380, aged thirty-three. 
 
Her body was laid to rest at the high altar in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva but her head was later removed and taken to Siena where it is enshrined today in the Dominican church where she had passed so many hours in prayer.
 
 
In 1939 Pope Pius XXIII would declare Catherine joint patron saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi and in 1999, Pope John Paul II would make her one of Europe's patron saints.
In a relatively short lifetime, “The Lady with the Lamp” certainly did bring light to the world.
 
The incorrupt body of St. Bernadette
 
Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - St. Catherine Remains
 
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