The Life of Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine was born in Bologna on September 8, 1413. Her parents were John de Vigri and Benvenuta Mammolini. Even in her young years, she showed a wisdom superior to her age. She was very serious and pious. It was really edifying to see her absorbed in prayer, or behaving with mercy and tenderness whenever she gave alms to the poor, which were given in the name of Jesus.
Her father was an ambassador of Marquis d’Este of Ferrara, a relative. The Marquis, Nicholas IV, noticing her good behavior chose her to be the “maid-of-honor” and friend for his beloved daughter, Princess Margaret. Catherine was only 11 years old. They became well educated in everything important to their culture, which was necessary for young women of high rank.
Clever and alert, not only in the company of the Princess but with the daughters of the nobility, Catherine studied and made swift strides in the art of drawing and painting. She also reached a special distinction in Latin, sufficiently so that she was soon able not only to read classical works, but also to write it flawlessly. She was greatly admired for her beauty, intelligence, and her genuine purity of soul.
The Lord’s grace, however, grew stronger in her heart day by day, and stirred within her a desire to read and prayerfully meditate on both the Scriptures and the ancient Fathers. People acknowledged the wisdom and profound insights Catherine had with the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. Imbued and enlightened at her heavenly school, she began losing interest in the world and with the splendors of the court. Her wish to abandon the world, so that she could adhere only to the Lord and look after her daily spirituality, was getting deeper every day.
After her father died her mother re-married and her friend, Princess Margaret went off to Rirnini, as the wife of the Master of that town. Catherine was then left free to follow the Lord.
Young suitors though, tried hard to convince her that, being young and gifted and with her many qualities it would be better to remain in the world…that by working for the happiness of an earthly family, she still could be a model of Christian virtues. But, Catherine was conscious of how better and more perfect it would be to renounce the legitimate happiness of a life in society and to dedicate herself to the Lord. She decided to live only for the Lord Jesus!