Saint Catherine of Siena, T.O.S.D. (March 25, 1347 in Siena – April 29, 1380 in Rome), was a tertiary of the Dominican Order and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She is believed, in Catholicism, to have had miraculous visions and felt herself to be united in marriage with Jesus, stating in her letters that she wore the wedding ring he gave her but that it was invisible.
Since 18 June 1939, Catherine of Siena has been one of the two patron saints of Italy, together with St. Francis of Assisi. On 3 October 1970, she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI, and on 1 October 1999, Pope John Paul II named her as one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Bridget of Sweden and Edith Stein.
Caterina di Giacomo di Benincasa was born on 25 March 1347 in Black Death-ravaged Siena, Italy, to Giacomo di Benincasa, a cloth dyer who ran his enterprise with the help of his sons, and Lapa Piagenti, the daughter of a local poet. The house where Catherine grew up is still in existence. Lapa was about forty years old when she prematurely gave birth to twin daughters, Catherine and Giovanna. She had already borne 22 children, but half of them had died. Giovanna was handed over to a wet-nurse and presently died. Catherine was nursed by her mother and developed into a healthy child. She was two years old when Lapa had her 25th child, another daughter named Giovanna. As a child Catherine was so merry that the family gave her the pet name of "Euphrosyne", which is Greek for "joy" and the name of an early Christian saint...
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