Catherine of Siena, St.

Catherine was born in the middle of the 14th Century in the Tuscan city of Siena. From her earliest years at home she appears to have received visions and lived a life of strict prayer and penance. At the age of 16, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and gave herself to contemplation, the service of the needy, and the reconciliation of sinners. After traveling to Avignon to plead with Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, she returned to Siena where people of all classes of society gathered around her because of her great sanctity. She is known for her extraordinary devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus as well as for her book The Dialogue, which is one of the great spiritual classics of the Latin Middle Ages. She died in 1380, was canonized in 1461, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970.