Liturgical Living: Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena

Liturgical Living: Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena Blog Header

Growing up Catholic, the celebration of receiving my Sacraments are milestones of my childhood that impacted my faith and formation. While I do not have any memories of being baptized, because I was baptized as an infant, I do have distinct memories of my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation. 

Sacrament of Confirmation 

Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of initiation for Catholics. The purpose of Confirmation is to make a mature commitment to living the faith and to receive an outpouring of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those gifts are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Fortitude/Courage, Counsel, Piety/Love, and Fear of the Lord. 

As part of the preparation for Confirmation, the candidates, called Confirmandi, each choose a Saint to whom they have a particular affinity or devotion. Choosing a Saint is specifically done to use the Saint’s name. Names are an important part of our Catholic faith and new names occur when one is drawing closer to God. 

Image of Confirmation Candidates, Sponsor, and Bishop

 Some examples of this in scripture are: Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Jacob became Israel (Genesis 35:10), and Simon became Peter (John 1:42). When it was my turn to choose a Saint, I decided on Catherine of Siena, whose feast day is celebrated on April 29th. 

Catherine of Siena

Image of Saint Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena was the twenty-third child born in her family. She was a smart and friendly child despite having no formal education.  She was also very devoted to her prayer life, much to the displeasure of her mother. 

While Saint Catherine remained a laywoman her life, she did join the third order of Saint Dominic, which helped guide her Christian life by living life with a Dominican spirituality in the secular world. Because of her membership in this order, she is often depicted wearing a habit. 

Saint Catherine influenced many followers with her deep spirituality and devotion to Christ. One of the most notable people St. Catherine influenced was Pope Gregory XI. Catherine was able to convince Pope Gregory XI to move the papacy from Avignon back to Rome. 

Then during the Western Schism, also known as the Schism of 1378, Catherine returned to Rome and spent the last two years of her life promoting church unity. She wrote  numerous letters to bishops and cardinals pleading for them to support the papacy in Rome under Pope Urban VI. 

Saint Catherine died in 1380 at the young age of thirty-three. Despite her short life, she became one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church because of her contributions to Catholic theology and doctrine. 

She is greatly respected for her spiritual writing, and how confidently she was able to speak the truth about Christ. I am thankful to have such an exceptional Saint interceding on my behalf when I chose Saint Catherine of Siena as my Confirmation Saint. 

Image of Confirmation Candidate and Sponsor

Pasta Santa Caterina

To honor Saint Catherine, who is the patron Saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi, we will be making Pasta Santa Caterina. We used Catholic Cuisine’s recipe, which I especially like because it uses Campanelle noodles. 

Image of Campanelle Pasta and Tomatoes

Campanelle noodles, also known as gigli, are shaped like lily, the flower that Saint Catherine is often shown holding in her images. This symbolic flower is appropriate for Saint Catherine of Siena because of her purity and chastity. 

Image of Pasta Santa Caterina

For dessert, I get to choose, because in our family Saint Catherine of Siena’s feast day is called my Name Day. We adopted Kendra Tierney’s plan of celebrating three special days for each person in the family. 

Since my given name does not have a specific Saint associated with it, I chose my Confirmation Saint, Catherine of Siena, to be when my family celebrates me. A fun Italian dessert choice would be gelato if you are fortunate to have an Italian bakery nearby. 

If you are not already celebrating your Confirmation Saint’s Feast Day as part of your family’s liturgical living, look it up and add it to your calendar. It’s a perfect starting point because you already have a connection to the Saint that you chose. 

Kendra Tierney’s book also has an excellent prayer to use for Saint Catherine of Siena’s Feast Day: 

O Great Saint Catherine of Diena, glory of the Dominican Order, who served the sick and suffering in time of plaque and brought back the exiled popes from Avignon to Rome, pray for us, that we may have some measure of your courage and self-sacrifice. Blessed be the name of God! 
Lisa Burek Author Bio

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