Catherine was born at Siena, Tuscany in Italy. Catherine was the youngest in a family of twenty-five children. When she was six years old Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her mother and father wanted her to be happily married. But, Catherine wished only to be a nun.
To make herself as unattractive as possible, she cut off her long, beautiful hair. Her parents were very upset and scolded her often. They also gave her the most difficult housework to do. But Catherine did not change her mind. Finally, her parents stopped bothering her and allowed her to become a nun.
St. Catherine was very honest and straightforward with Jesus and scolded him when he was not around to help her in her struggles and temptations. Jesus told her that because he was in her heart she was able to win her struggles by his grace.
One night when the people of Siena were out on the streets celebrating. The little baby Jesus and his mother Mary appeared to Catherine who was praying alone in her room. Mary took Catherine's hand and the infant Jesus put a ring on the saint's finger and she became his bride.
In those days the Church had many problems. There were fights going on all over Italy. Catherine wrote letters to kings and queens. She even went to beg rulers to make peace with the pope and to avoid wars.
Catherine asked the pope to leave Avignon, France, and return to Rome to rule the Church as it was God's will. He listened to St. Catherine and did as she said.
Catherine never forgot that Jesus was in her heart. Through her, Jesus helped the sick people she nursed and comforted the prisoners she visited in jail.
This great saint died in Rome in 1380 when she was just thirty-three. She is the patroness of Italy, her country. Hundreds of years later St. Catherine was named a Doctor of the Church. She received this great honor because she served Jesus' Church boldly during her short lifetime.