Born Alessandra Lucrezia Romola on April 23rd, 1522, in Florence, St. Catherine entered The Third Order Dominicans. She entered the novitiate, in 1535 at the age of fourteen (taking the name of Catherine), and professed in 1536.
She lived a life of penance and mortifications, fasting two or three days a week on bread and water, and sometimes passed the whole day without food. She mortified her body with a sharp iron chain which she wore next her skin.
For two years she suffered severe health related pains offering this suffering via meditation on the passion of Christ. After a miraculous restoration of her health, she studied and labored to die to her senses, and to advance in the penitential life
She is most remembered for her mystical life and weekly ecstasy. The great “Ecstasy of the Passion”, happened for the first time in February, 1542, and repeated each week afterwards for twelve years from Thursday at noon till 4 p.m. on Friday, for several years. She went through all the stages of Our Lord’s Passion, recounting all that His Blessed Mother suffered in witnessing it. These ecstasies ceased in answer to the prayers of both Catherine and her community.
Catherine received the stigmata, the very wounds of Our Lord, on her hands, feet, side, and around her head. On Easter Sunday in 1542, she was visited by Our Lord, and He gave her a gold ring with a diamond in it as a sign that she belonged to him. To the world, her finger appeared to have a hard ring just below the surface of her skin. Catherine saw and experienced it as a physical gold ring.
Catherine was chosen, at a very young age to be mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, at the age of twenty-five was appointed perpetual prioress. Her community still exists and inhabits the convent of San Vincenzio (now commonly called Santa Caterina), and there her body still reposes. Her feast is kept on the 13th of February.
Adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia, and Vol. II of “The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company.
Almighty God, you brought Catherine to holiness through her contemplation of your Son’s passion and the sorrows of Our Blessed Mother. She gave us an example of a life of penance and heroic virtue. Through her intercession, help us to become courageous witnesses and teachers of these mysteries. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.