Born: Sept. 8th, 1413
Died: March 9th, 1463
FEast: March 9th
artists, liberal arts, poets, animal caretakers, bakers
Catherine was born into a wealthy family in Italy. As close friends of the ruling family, Catherine grew up as a lady in waiting to the Marquis of Ferrara's wife. At age 11, she was invited to live in the palace and became close friends with the Marquis' daughter. The two had a thorough education and enjoyed learning Latin, musical instruments, and painting.
When Catherine was 14, the daughter became engaged, and not long after, the Marquis' wife was executed, so Catherine decided to leave the royal court and enter the religious life.
The group she joined had been hearing of Sts. Francis and Clare, and decided to transition their way of living to one like theirs. They founded a monastery of "Poor Clares", and lived very simple lives. They had no possessions and shared everything. They were also silent for most of the day, listening to what they might be called to do.
Despite coming from such wealthy origins, Catherine volunteered for the roles of baker, laundress, and animal caretaker.
Catherine spent much time writing, illustrating, and constructing poetry in her free time. She discovered the passion she had maintained for art since she was young, and created many works that are now in galleries and collections. She even illustrated her own 500 page prayer book. Her art was also innovative, in that she did not feel pressure to follow the exact styles of all other Renaissance artists of the time. She also merged words, images, and phrases in new ways not common then. She loved music as well, and played the viola even just before she passed away.
Later in life, at the request of church authorities, Catherine left this convent to found a new one in Bologna. She was put in charge as abbess, even though she preferred a humbler role.
18 days after Catherine passed away, it was noticed that a sweet smell was coming from the spot in which she was buried, and several people reported miracles taking place there. It was discovered that her body had not decomposed, and, now venerated in a church named after her in Bologna, it still has not.
Please aid us in our creation processes. Remind us who it is we are creating for and what we hope to change by creating, and may our work have the intended effect. Never let us forget this great power we have to be able to change the world through our ideas. help us also discover how to use our gifts, passions, and skills for good.
Humble and quiet in her expression but with a passion in her eyes for her work, I wanted Catherine's whole energy to be centered on a piece she is working on that is out of view. She described creating as a spiritual process and a work of service to others that is also praise to God. I would say the same if I was asked to describe my own process.