This Monday 29th April, we celebrate the feast of St Catherine of Siena (1347-1390). She is one of the outstanding figures of medieval Catholicism, by the strong influence she has had in the history of the papacy. She is behind the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome, and then carried out many missions entrusted by the pope, something quite rare for a woman in the Middle Ages.
Her writings are marked by deep insight and thought. She is one of the most influential writers in Catholicism, to the point that she is one of only four women to be declared a doctor of the Church. This recognition by the Church consecrates the importance of her writings.
Below is a radio interview with Bishop Robert Barron on St Catherine of Siena and we also include here some of her most famous quotes and prayers. Enjoy finding out more about this extraordinary woman saint.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
“Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
“The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.”
‘Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love’.
‘You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!’
‘You see this gentle loving Word born in a stable while Mary was on a journey, to show you pilgrims how you should be constantly born anew in the stable of self-knowledge, where by grace you will find me born in your soul’.
"You are rewarded not according to your work or your time but according to the measure of your love."
"Love transforms one into what one loves."
"We trust and believe in what we love."
"And the eternal Father said, 'And if anyone should ask me what this soul is, I would say: She is another me, made so by the union of love.'
"The soul cannot live without love. She always wants to love something because love is the stuff she is made of, and through love I created her."
"[Sin is] loving what God hates, and hating what God loves."
"Let us enter into the house of knowledge of ourselves."
"Love does not stay idle."
"You know...that to join two things together there must be nothing between them or there cannot be a perfect fusion. Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be, without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between, just as God loves us without anything in between."
[The eternal Father to Catherine:] "And since I in the beginning created man to my own image and likeness, and afterwards too your image on myself by assuming human nature, it is always my endeavor, in so far as you are fit for it, to intensify that likeness between me and you." Raymond of Capua, Life of Catherine of Siena, 111
"The human heart is always drawn by love." Dialogue 26
To access the radio interview with Bishop Robert Barron on St Catherine of Siena, see: