Catherine of Bologna

Feast Day: March 9
Canonized: May 22, 1712

Catherine was born in 1413 in Bologna, Italy. Her father was an important government official who worked for the Marquis of Ferrara, a member of the royal family. When she was 11, Catherine was invited to live in the palace to be a companion to the marquis’ daughter, Margaret. It was a wonderful opportunity for Catherine. She and Margaret were educated together by a private tutor. Catherine especially enjoyed the art lessons she and Margaret were given. Catherine discovered that God had blessed her with a talent for drawing.

During her years in the palace, Catherine also discovered that God was calling her to a more simple and prayerful life. Catherine returned home and joined a group of young women who performed good works in Jesus’ name and spent time in prayer together every day.

Soon, the women decided to join an order of nuns called the Poor Clares. These nuns turned away from anything that kept them from focusing on God. They had no personal possessions and shared everything. The Poor Clares lived in silence much of the time so that they could listen and talk to God in the quiet of their hearts without distractions. Catherine was appointed as the abbess, or superior, of the order.

Catherine praised God through her art. She painted pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. She created beautiful illuminated manuscripts by painting small illustrations on the pages of prayer books and Bibles, which she also lettered and copied by hand. She also wrote books and poems about her faith. Some of her artwork can still be seen today in a museum in Venice.

She died in 1463 and was canonized in 1712.

We celebrate St. Catherine’s feast day on March 9. As Catherine used her talents to honor and glorify God, she is the patroness of artists.

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