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About the Author
St. Catherine of Siena was born Caterina di Giacomo di Benincasa on March 25, 1347 in Siena, Italy, during an outbreak of plague. Born a twin, her sister did not survive. She began having visions of Christ while a young girl. At sixteen, Catherine was asked to marry the widower left behind when one of her older sisters died in childbirth. She refused and began to fast, and cut her hair, in protest. Soon she became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic.
At the age of twenty-one, St. Catherine experienced what she described to Blessed Raymond of Capua, O.P., her spiritual director, as a “mystical marriage” to Christ. She also heard from Christ a directive to become more involved in the world. Soon, she was involved in politics and Church affairs, carrying on an extensive correspondence with fellow religious, bishops, cardinals, and popes. She was known, too, for rebuking the leaders of her Church when God instructed her to do so. God’s messages to St. Catherine are recorded in her Dialogues.
St. Catherine died in Rome at the age of thirty-three in Rome. The year was 1380. She was canonized on June 29, 1461 by Pope Pius II. In 1970, Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church. She and St. Teresa of Avila were the first women to be recognized with this honor.
St. Padre Pio was born at Pietrelcina in the Province of Benevento, in Italy, on May 25, 1887. The second son of a farmer and housewife, he was baptized the following day in the Church of St. Mary of the Angels in Pietrelcina with the name Francesco, “Francis.”
At the age of sixteen, he moved to the Capuchin Priory at Morcone; two weeks later he was clothed in the Franciscan habit and took the name Fra Pio, “Brother Pius.” He was ordained a deacon six years later, and a priest one year later. In 1916, he moved to the Priory of San Giovanni Rotondo near Gargano, where he remained for the rest of his life.
In 1918, St. Padre Pio received the gift of stigmata. He tried to hide these marks on his body, but often was unsuccessful. He became famous and sought-after for his mystical teaching and spiritual companionship.
Pope John Paul II beatified St. Padre Pio in 1999. He was then canonized by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on June 16, 2002.