Born to a prominent family in 1522, Saint Catherine of Ricci was known as the patron saint of the sick.
After her mother died, her father brought Catherine to the convent at the age of six. She spent two years at the convent and developed a passion for a life dedicated to Christ and prayer during this time. At the age of 13, Catherine came back to the convent of Dominican nuns at Prat in Tuscany, where she received her religious veil.
During her early years at the convent, Saint Catherine of Ricci suffered immense pain caused by a mysterious illness that lasted two years. She suffered through this with grace only comparable to that which Christ had as he suffered pain on the cross. St. Catherine bore the pain through meditation on the suffering of Christ and prayer. After overcoming illness, the patron saint of the sick is said to have experienced meditation trances weekly in which she underwent the motions of Christ’s passion. She went through his physical pain and even bore the stigmata (wounds corresponding to Christ’s from crucifixion) on her body.
Saint Catherine’s dedication to prayer and Christ saw her elevated to the leadership of the convent at the age of 30, a position she held until her death. Her sanctity attracted world leaders seeking her counsel, key among them three cardinals later elevated in the church to become Popes. These three were Popes Marcellus II, Clement VIII and Leo XI. While still living, she appeared miraculously in Rome to offer counsel to her long-term acquaintance Philip Neri without ever having left Florence.
St. Catherine de Ricci passed on at the age of 67 in 1589 after a long illness. She was interred at the Minor Basilica next to the convent of The Dominican Order in Prat, Tuscany. Pope Benedict XIV canonized her in 1746, and her feast is celebrated on 2nd February.