Friday, December 20, 2013

Catherine of Genoa is an intriguing saint

I've been intrigued by what I've been reading about St Catherine of Genoa. She was quite an interesting saint. From a wealthy Italian family, she was married at the age of 16 to Giuliano Adorno. He was an unfaithful wastrel who gambled away the family fortune.

For ten years she suffered in this miserable marriage. For relief Catherine turned to worldly pursuits, but these left her depressed and unhappy. In March 1473 she had the conversion experience I described in my previous post. 

Her profound interior life led her to the heights of mysticism. All the while, she was the director of the large Pammatone Hospital in Genoa, where her husband, who had also converted, joined her. Together they cared for the poor and the sick. Her teachings on the spiritual life were collected by her followers and published after her death (in 1510).


Catherine is best known for her teachings on purgatory, which she sees not as an exterior fire but an inner one. The soul’s ardent love for God burns like a fire, until all the remnants of sin are removed. She reminds us, who live in an age that takes sin lightly, of the pressing need to repent of our sins and do penance for them.

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