Today the church remembers Catherine of Siena, 1380.One tends to think of medieval women as silent and passive dwellers in homes and convents. This was far from the case with Catherine of Siena. She exercised great influence in matters of church and state, and hers was one of the keenest minds of her day. Her father was a merchant in the flourishing Italian town of Siena. In her youth she had some extraordinary religious experiences which caused concern among her family and friends. At sixteen she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and gave herself entirely to contemplation and the service of the sick and poor. Her reputation as a counselor and mystic soon spread far and wide. In 1376 she made a journey to Avignon and boldly confronted Pope Gregory XI , who heeded her advice and thus averted schism and bloodshed. Catherine"s famous book, the Dialogue, is most unusual and highly symbolic. We have four hundred letters written by her, addressed to bishops, kings, scholars, merchants, and obscure peasants. They are excellent literature and reflect a wide range of interests. Catherine spent countless months caring for the victims of plague. Again and again she was to be found in the courts of state, interceding for justice, mercy, and peace. Deliver us, we pray, from an inordinate love of this world, that, following the example of your servant Catherine, we may serve you with singleness of heart. Amen.
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Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena, as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior, that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church: Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ's death, and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.