Catherine of Genoa

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Catherine of Genoa
death_date=death date|1510|9|15|df=y
feast_day=15 September [cite book|author=Administratio Patrimonii Sedis Apostolicae|title=Martyrologium Romanum|location=Vatican City|publisher=Libreria Editrice Vaticana|year= 2001]
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church

birth_place=Genoa, Italy
death_place=Genoa, Italy
beatified_by=Pope Clement X
canonized_by=Pope Clement XII

Saint Catherine of Genoa (born San Lorenzo 1447 - 15 September 1510) is an Italian Roman Catholic saint and mystic, admired for her work among the sick and the poor. [ Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: article "Saint Catherine of Genoa"] ] She was a member of the noble Fieschi family,Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "Catherine, St, of Genoa"] and spent most of her life and her means serving the sick, especially during the plague which ravaged Genoa in 1497 and 1501. She died in that city in 1510.

Her fame outside her native city is connected with the publication in 1551 of the book known in English as the "Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa".

She and her teaching were the subject of Baron Friedrich von Hügel's classic work "The Mystical Element of Religion" (1908).

Early life

Saint Catherine's parents were Jacopo Fieschi and Francesca di Negro, both of illustrious Italian birth. Her family had papal connections, and Jacopo became Viceroy of Naples. [ Catholic Encyclopedia: article "St. Catherine of Genoa"] ]

Catherine wished to enter a convent when about thirteen, perhaps inspired by her sister Limbania who was an Augustinian nun, [cite book|last=Jones|first=Kathleen|title=Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage|location=Maryknoll, New York|publisher=Orbis Books|year=1999 but the nuns to whom her confessor applied refused her on account of her youth, after which she appears to have put the idea aside without any further attempt. At sixteen, she was married by her parents' wish to a young Genoese nobleman, Giuliano Adorno. Their marriage was probably a ploy to end the feud between their two families. [cite book|last=Flinders|first=Carol Lee|title=Enduring Grace|location=San Francisco|publisher=Harper Collins|year=1993 The childless marriage turned out wretchedly; [cite book|last=Jones|first=Kathleen|title=Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage|location=Maryknoll, New York|publisher=Orbis Books|year=1999 Giuliano proved faithless, violent-tempered, and a spendthrift, who made the life of his wife a misery. Details are scanty, but it seems at least clear that Catherine spent the first five years of her marriage in silent, melancholy submission to her husband; and that she then, for another five, turned a little to the world for consolation in her troubles. Then, ten years after her marriage, she prayed "that for three months He (God) may keep me (Catherine) sick in bed" so that she might escape her marriage, but her prayer went unanswered. [cite book|last=Flinders|first=Carol Lee|title=Enduring Grace|location=San Francisco|publisher=Harper Collins|year=1993


She was converted by a mystical experience on 22 March 1473, which marked the beginning of her life of close union with God in prayer, without using forms of prayer such as the rosary . [cite book|last=Jones|first=Kathleen|title=Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage|location=Maryknoll, New York|publisher=Orbis Books|year=1999 She began to receive Communion almost daily, a practice extremely rare for lay people in the Middle Ages, and she underwent remarkable mental and at times almost pathological experiences, the subject of Friedrich von Hügel's study "The Mystical Element of Religion".

She combined this with unselfish service to the sick in a hospital at Genoa, in which her husband joined her after he, too, had been converted. He later became a Franciscan tertiary, but she joined no religious order. She eventually became manager and treasurer of the hospital.

She died in 1510, worn out with labours of body and soul. Her death had been slow with many days of pain and suffering as she experienced visions and wavered between life and death. [cite book|last=Flinders|first=Carol Lee|title=Enduring Grace|location=San Francisco|publisher=Harper Collins|year=1993

piritual teaching

For about twenty-five years, St. Catherine, though frequently going to Confession, was unable to open her mind for direction to anyone; but towards the end of her life a Father Marabotti was appointed to be her spiritual guide. He had been a director of the hospital where her husband died in 1477. [cite book|last=Jones|first=Kathleen|title=Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage|location=Maryknoll, New York|publisher=Orbis Books|year=1999 To him she explained her states, past and present, and he compiled the "Memoirs". During this period, her life was devoted to her relationship with God, through "interior inspiration" alone. [cite book|author=Catherine of Genoa|title=The Life and Sayings of Saint Catherine of Genoa|location=Staten Island|publisher=Alba House|year= 1964

In 1551, 41 years after her death, a book about her life and teaching was published, entitled "Libro de la vita mirabile et dottrina santa de la Beata Caterinetta de Genoa". This is the source of her "Dialogues on the Soul and the Body" and her "Treatise on Purgatory", which are often printed separately. Her authorship of these has been denied, and it used to be thought that another mystic, the Augustinian canoness Battista Vernazza, who lived in a convent in Genoa from 1510 till her death in 1587 had edited the two works, a suggestion discredited by recent scholarship, which attributes a large part of both works to St Catherine, though they received their final literary form only after her death.

Beatification and canonization

Catherine's writings were examined by the Holy Office and pronounced to contain doctrine that would be enough, in itself, to prove her sanctity; and she was beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X, and canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. Her writings also became sources of inspiration for other religious leaders such as Saints Robert Bellarmine and Francis de Sales and Cardinal Henry Edward Manning.< ref>Kathleen Jones, Women Saints: Lives of Faith and Courage (Orbis Books 1999)]

St Catherine of Genoa's liturgical feast is celebrated on 15 September. Pope Pius XII declared her patroness of the hospitals in Italy.


See also

*The Incorruptibles.

External links

* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Catherine of Genoa"]
* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: article "Saint Catherine of Genoa"]
* [ Catherine Adorni] at the Brooklyn Museum Dinner Party Database of Notable Women. Accessed March 2008.
* [ Saint Catherine of Genoa: Life in the Spiritual Borderlands]

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