She was raised in an Italian court where she had an exceptional education and excelled in the arts. But she chose the life of a poor Clare, and used her artistic talent to serve God. Meet St. Catherine of Bologna, patron saint of the arts.
Born Catherine deVigri in Bologna on Sept. 8 1413, she was a member of a noble family and raised in the court of the Marquis of Ferrara. Catherine received an excellent education, including music, singing, painting and Latin, and excelled at her studies.
The original plan for her life was that she would serve as a lady in waiting in the court. However, Catherine knew she wanted to serve God, so at the young age of 13, she entered a lay community and became a Franciscan Tertiary. There was conflict in the community about whether to follow Augustinian or Franciscan rule. Eventually Catherine and several other women left the community in 1432 and founded a convent in the tradition of the Order of Poor Clares. The sisters of the convent had an excellent reputation for holiness and austerity. Eventually Catherine was named superior of the convent, and went on to found a second community of Poor Clares.
As a sister, Catherine did her part for the community by performing more mundane tasks: laundry, baking and other housework. She also served as a caretaker for the animals. But her humility did not stop her spiritual and creative genius. She was a gifted spiritual writer, authoring many treatises. lauds and sermons; she even copied her own breviary. With her artistic heart, she also drew religious imagery in her writings. Her best known written work is “Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare.” It’s said that she often had visions of Jesus and Satan and recorded these events.
Catherine died on Mach 9, 1463 and was buried without a coffin. Immediately, miracles began to happen for those who prayed at her gravesite, so her body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. The sisters decided to place Catherine’s body sitting upright in a chair in their chapel in Bologna, where it is still on display to this day.
St. Catherine is the patron of liberal arts, artists, against temptations.
Her feast day is March 9.
A novena to St. Catherine can be found at this parish website from New Jersey:
Read her biography here: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=111
A Catholic podcast gives a different view of St. Catherine of Bologna here:
A holy card bearing her likeness can be purchased here: https://www.portraitsofsaints.com/products/st-catherine-of-bologna-holy-card