I am reading "Catherine of Siena" by Sigrid Undset and it is amazing. She is an excellent writer with a fascinating topic. Catherine lived an extraordinary life.
She was one of twenty six children, many of whom died at or near birth and few who lived to adulthood. At the age of six she had an encounter with Jesus that profoundly changed her. She was an extremely obedient child until told she was to marry. Then, she cut off her hair! She begged and pleaded to be allowed to dedicate herself to the Lord. At nineteen she was received into the Sisters of Penitence, the Third Order of St. Dominic, even though the order typically was made up of married women or widows.
Her first three years were spent in seclusion in a small room in her parent's home, leaving only for Mass. She became a frequent communicant, though that was not usual for that time period.
For years, Catherine subsisted on the Eucharist as her main source of nourishment for both body and soul. She had bouts of illness during which Jesus would rouse her to go and take care of people in need. She nursed the sick and dying but also gave spiritual advice. A community sprang forth around her.
She was able to read people's souls, pull them from death's door, and convert hardened sinners with her prayers to God.
Her life amazes me. Her dedication to Jesus and complete obedience to him in all things humble me. She lived a life of asceticism for the sake of the kingdom. She inspires me to put my trust more fully in Jesus and turn over more of my life to him.
I am now getting into the section of the book where Catherine's involvement in church affairs begins. Stay tuned for more.