Catherine of Genoa

Catherine of Genoa
Santa Caterina Fieschi Adorno-dipinto Giovanni Agostino Ratti.jpg
Genoa, Italy
Genoa, Italy
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified1675 by Pope Clement X
Canonized1737 by Pope Clement XII
Feast15 September[1]
PatronageBrides, Childless People, Difficult Marriages, People Ridiculed For Their Piety, Temptations, Victims Of Adultery, Victims Of Unfaithfulness, Widows

Saint Catherine of Genoa (Caterina Fieschi Adorno, 1447 – 15 September 1510) was an Italian Roman Catholic saint and mystic, admired for her work among the sick and the poor[2] and remembered because of various writings describing both these actions and her mystical experiences. She was a member of the noble Fieschi family,[3] and spent most of her life and her means serving the sick, especially during the plague which ravaged Genoa in 1497 and 1501. She died in that city in 1510.

Her fame outside her native city is connected with the publication in 1551 of the book known in English as the Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa.[3]

She and her teaching were the subject of Baron Friedrich von Hügel's classic work The Mystical Element of Religion (1908).[2]

Early life

Catherine was born in Genoa in 1447, the last of five children.[4] Catherine's parents were Jacopo Fieschi and Francesca di Negro, both of illustrious Italian birth. The family was connected to two previous popes, and Jacopo became Viceroy of Naples.[5]

Catherine wished to enter a convent when about 13,[6] perhaps inspired by her sister Saint Limbania [it] who was an Augustinian nun.[7] However, the nuns to whom her confessor applied on her behalf refused her on account of her youth, and after this Catherine appears to have put the idea aside without any further attempt.[5] After her father’s death in 1463, aged 16, she was married by her parents' wish to a young Genoese nobleman, Giuliano Adorno, a man who, after several experiences in the area of trade and in the military world in the Middle East, had returned to Genoa to get married.[4] Their marriage was probably a ploy to end the feud between their two families.[8] The marriage turned out wretchedly:[7] it was childless and Giuliano proved to be faithless, violent-tempered and a spendthrift, and he made his wife's life a misery. Details are scant, but it seems at least clear that Catherine spent the first five years of her marriage in silent, melancholy submission to her husband; and that she then, for another five years, turned a little to the world for consolation in her troubles.[5] Then, after ten years of marriage, desperate for an escape, she prayed for three months that God would keep her sick in bed, but her prayer went unanswered.[8]