Italian Baroque artist Baldassare Franceschini (1611-1689) painted “St. Catherine of Siena” sometime in the 17th century. (Public Domain/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

April 29

Catherine was the 24th of 25 children of a Sienese dyer; her mystical experiences and raptures began at age 6. She refused to marry, and in about 1367 joined the Third Order of St. Dominic. She attracted a like-minded group in Siena for prayer and good works, and devoted her last five years to Church unity and ending the scandal of rival papacies. Though she experienced the pain of the stigmata, it became visible only after her death at 33. And, in an odd division of relics, her body is in a Roman church, while her head is in a Sienese church.

Named a doctor of the Church in 1970, Catherine is a patroness of Europe and Italy, and the patroness of fire prevention, nurses and nursing. She is also the patroness of St. Catherine of Siena Parish and School in south Phoenix and of St. Catherine Native American Mission in Santa Cruz.