Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)

Saint Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)

Patron saint of firefighters

Feast day: April 29

Catherine of Siena lived during a time of conflict between dozens of Italian city-states, as well as a time of leadership problems in the Church. She mediated between warring cities, ministered to sick people, and was a mystic, someone unusually close to God.

As a young woman she joined the Dominican Third (secular) Order and, while living at home, became a compelling teacher, writer, and spiritual guide. Throughout her life, she “spoke truth to power” in both the religious and secular realms. It was she who influenced the pope, then living in Avignon, France, to return to Rome as a sign of Church unity.

In 1970, she and Saint Teresa of Avila were the first women to be named Doctors of the Church. She once said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  (Adapted from Good News Day by Day: Bible Reflections for Teens [Saint Mary’s Press])

(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)