Saint Catherine of Genoa


Saint Catherine of Genoa, 1447-1510

September 15

Saint Catherine was born in Genoa in 1447 as the Renaissance was beginning in Italy. At the age of thirteen, Catherine said she wanted to become a nun. However, she was considered too young at the time and was told to wait. Three years later, she was married to Julian Adorno. The marriage was an unhappy one. Julian’s vices conflicted with Catherine’s devotion to God. As she was seeking guidance in how to deal with them, the answer came to her in a revelation. As she knelt in devotion in a convent in Genoa, she was overcome by a blinding ray of Divine light. She fell into a trance and then lost consciousness. When she regained her senses, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

She began writing about her feelings and experiences. Her two most famous works are Dialogues of the Soul and Body, and Treatise on Purgatory. She described life as a process of continual purification that would allow the soul to receive Christ, pure in heart and mind.

Catherine’s life and quest for purity eventually influenced her husband, Julian. Toward the end of his life, he gave up his sinful ways and was sorry for the way he’d lived. After his death in 1497, she devoted herself to the sick at the hospital of Genoa, where she became the director and treasurer. Near the end of her life, a priest named Father Marabotti began assembling Catherine’s memoirs. Catherine died in 1510 and she was canonized in 1737.

Discuss: Saint Catherine was converted when she experienced an overpowering sense of God's love for her. Tell about a time when you were aware of God's love for you.

Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal

Encourage the young people to find out more about Genoa. Be sure to share with them the following:

  • Genoa was named after John the Baptist, the city's patron Saint.
  • Genoa has a population of about 631,000 people and is the largest seaport in Italy.
  • Genoa has a history that dates back to the second or third century B.C. and is today one of the best preserved ancient cities in Europe.
  • Genoa was an important maritime center during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and was once an independent Republic.
  • Genoa was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.