Women of Christianity

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Catherine of Sienna is one of the main instances of the democratic power inherent to Christianity. The purity and holiness of her life alone raised this young and obscure nun to a position so high, that she became a negotiator between contending States, and support to the Church in her peril, and the contemplated ambassadress of a pope to a great queen. These honors have induced some of the biographers of Catherin to derive her organ from one of those Italian families of illustrious citizens who vied in power and magnificence with the princes of other lands; but the plain truth is that her ancestry was obscure, and that her father, Jacopo Benincasa, was no more than a prosperous dyer of Sienna.

Catherine was more loved than the other children. She was a beautiful, highly figged and devout beyond her years. Her parents treated her with marked indulgence until she had reached her twelfth year; they then wished her to be married, however, Cathein unexpectedly declared that she had solemnly vowed to to know no other spouse than Christ. Lapa was greatly incensed; to diver the thoughts of her daughter from the religious state, she deprived her of the little room to which she was in the habit of retiring for meditation and solitude, and gave her all the drudgery of the house to perform. Catherin bore with great patience the anger of her parents, the insults of her jealous sisters, the humiliation of the menial tasks set to her, and th loss of her dear little room. She at length supplied its place by making, as she said herself, a cel and oratory in her heart so all; and secure that, in the midst of the most distracting and occupations, the could ever retire to it, and Rest In Peace within the shadow of her own thoughts.

A taper so resolute, and a mind that could so early exercise the philosophic power of abstraction from external occupations, were not of the order that is controlled or influence easily. We find, accordingly, that all the time this domestic persecution lasted, but one compliance was wrung from Catherine: her sisters prevailed o her to assume a dress somewhat more elegant and becoming that that which she usually wore. This momentary indulgence of feminine vanity was the great sin of Catherine's youth. It is easy to smile at so much rigidity, but to the purse It is easy to smile at so much rigidly: but to the purse, nothing is light; and to all, any deviation form their own principle of right and wrong ought to seem a sin.

The parents of Catherin, seeing there was no chance of succeeding with their inflexible daughter, at length gave up the point, and allowed her to resume her former mode of life. She practiced great austerities, received the poor, and visited the prisoners and the sick. Many severe illnesses, aggravated by the remedies the physicians prescribed to her, tormented her for some years: she bore her suffering with exemplary patience.

In the year of 1365, Catherine was was then eighteen, received the habit of the theird order of St. Dominic, in a nunnery of Sienna. She suffered much from those spiritual troubles whic seem to exceed all others int eh bitterness, but she never relaxed from her charitable pursuits: people often met her in the streets of Sienna bending beneath the weight of the cord, wine, oil, and other provision which she was carrying to the poor of the good.

Catherine possesses a gift which does not, like charity, depend on the will land holiness of those who own it. The figs of eloquence: the long nun of St. Dominic, who tended the leprous and the sick, could speak so as to move the hearts of world men, and soften in tpentience plashpming sinners. Factions ran high in the republican cities of Italy; long and sanguinary feuds divided the chief families of every State, and Sienna had her share of the universal strife. The persuasive eloquence of Catherine in reconciling recent or hereditary enemies became celebrated in her native city: when her argument failed, she prayed.

In the year of 1365, Catherine was then eighteen, received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, in a nunnery of Sienna. She suffered much from those spiritual troubles which seem to exceed all others int eh bitterness, but she never relaxed from her charitable pursuits: people often met her in the streets younger, one a princess, the other a dyer's daughter, was to have even confided a task in which the peace fo Christendom and the honor of the Church were engaged. Catherine of Sweden died in 1381; and like her, Catherine of Sweden of Siennadid not long survive this intended distinction. Word out by the infirmities which had early afflicted her, she died at Rome on the 29th of April 1380, in the thirty-third year of her age. She was canonized in 1461; but long before this her remains were held as relics, and her mother, Lapa, who reached the age of ninety, was always reverted as the mother of a saint. In the Strada dell Ocarina's of the city of Sienna stood the house where Catherine was born; it was converted into an oratory, which still exists. Her cell was shown to Evelyn when he visited Sienna in 1645, and records that the door of deal wood was half cut out into chips, by the many devout person who came to visit the spot once hallowed by her presence. (Catherine of Sienna-Catherine of Sweden, Women of Christianity, pg. 106)

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