Catherine was born in Genoa, Italy in 1447, the the fifth and youngest child of James Fieschi and his wife Francesca di Negro, members a noble family, which had produced two popes (Innocent IV and Adrian V).
At the age of 13 Catherine tried to became a cloistered nun, but failed because she was too young. Then her father died and her widowed mother insisted that she marry into nobility.
At age 16, she married Guiliano Adorno. Her husband had a violent termper, was unfaithful, and selfish. For the first five years of their marriage, Catherine suffered in silence. Later, she tried to be more cosmopolitan to attract him, but this only made her unhappy.
One day, taking her sister’s advice, she went to Confession and became aware of her sins and how much God loved her. She served as an excellent example for her husband, who eventually turned away from his life of sin and selfishness. He was converted and became a Franciscan tertiary. The two then lived chastely for the rest of their lives.
Catherine and Giuliano devoted themselves to caring for the sick in the hospital of Genoa, where they were joined by Catherine’s cousin. They also moved from their palace to a small house in a poorer neighborhood. They later moved into the hospital and upon Guliano’s death in 1497, Catherine became the hospital’s administrator. Her spiritual life also became more intense and she received the stigmata.
Catherine wrote Dialogues of the Soul and Body and Treatise on Purgatory, which are outstanding works in the field of mysticism. She believed that purgatory begins on earth for souls open to God and life with God in heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God begun on earth.
Catherine died September 15, 1510, and was canonized in 1737. She is the patron of Genoa and of Italian hospitals. She is also the patron saint of brides, childless people, difficult marriages, and widows.
Quote:”If it were given to a man to see virtue’s reward in the next world, he would occupy his intellect, memory and will in nothing but good works, careless of danger or fatigue.”
~ St. Catherine of Genoa