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Catherine of Siena

1347-1380. Dominican tertiary.* She had a vision when she was seven, when she vowed her virginity to Christ. She became a Dominican tertiary in 1364/5, and from 1368 to 1374 lived in Siena, gathering a circle, clerical and lay, around her, who gave rise to her well-known letters on many subjects. In 1375 interest in a crusade took her to Pisa, where she also received the stigmata. In 1376, at the request of the Florentines, she journeyed to Avignon to meet with Gregory XI. While unsuccessful in her attempts to help the church's Babylonian Captivity,* she did figure in Gregory's decision to have the Curia removed to Rome that year. After the Great Schism* in 1378 the rest of her life was spent in Rome working toward unity in support of Urban VI. She went about fearlessly, and her political involvements were always for spiritual ends. Bearing the unmistakable marks of her order, and having always its protection in her worldly associations, she and Francis of Assisi* were named the chief patron saints of Italy by Pius XII in 1939. A Dialogue of four treatises was her testament, and Augustine and Bernard were for her as significant sources as Aquinas. She was canonized in 1461. A complete edition of her letters (4 vols., ed. N. Tommasèo), was published in Florence in 1860.

See also biographies by Raymond of Capua (ET 1960); and A. Levasti (ET 1954); and R. Fawtier, Sainte Catherine de Sienne et la critique des sources (2 vols., 1921- 30).