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Saint Catherine of Ricci

Saint Catherine was born as Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de'Ricci on April 23rd, 1522 in Florence. Her mother died unfortunately very quickly after her birth and her father noticed that the young girl was completely immersed in prayer and had a deep spiritual connection even as a toddler. At the age of six her father allowed her to enroll into a school run by Benedictine nuns nearby. It was here she developed a devotion to the Passion of Christ. After her education, she joined the Convent of Saint Vincent in Tuscany and took the habit and the religious name of Catherine in May of 1535.

Soon after joining, Saint Catherine began experiencing deep periods of religious ecstasies. The periods became so frequent and so fully engrossing that the nuns began to question her sanity. As she neared the age of 30, the sisters began to understand the source of these visions and periods of ecstasy and elected her Prioress. As prioress she served as began serving as advisor to several bishops and cardinals - three of which would eventually become popes: Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII, and Pope Leo XI.

Saint Catherine famously began experiencing ecstasies that would last from noon on Thursdays to 4pm on Fridays every week, she referred to these as the "Ecstasy of the Passion". During these periods, she would often to begin bleeding as if she had been scourged and would often bore Stigmata. She wrote often to Saint Philip Neri and once miraculously appeared to him while he was in Rome in a miracle (she was physically several hundred miles away at her convent). This miracle would be used later to declare her a Saint when Saint Philip confirmed the miracle.

Saint Catherine died in 1590 after becoming ill and was buried next to the convent where she had spent her life, under the altar of the Minor Basilica of Santi Vicenzo e Caterina de'Ricci, Prato. In 1732, Pope Clement XII beatified her and Pope Benedict XIV officially canonized her in 1746. Today her feast day is celebrated on February 13.

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