Innocent and full of joy, at six years old Saint Catherine of Siena was given a privilege few other children her age receive: a vision of Christ Jesus, shining in glory, sitting on a throne surounded by saints. In this vision Christ smiled at Catherine warmly, held His hand over her, and blessed her. She stood motionless until her brother, standing nearby, grabbed her arm to see what was the matter. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “If you just saw what I see, you would never take me away from such a beautiful sight!” Tears streamed down her cheeks.
This special moment, so early in her life, created within Catherine a deep thirst for holiness. The matters of this world and even the games of her friends no longer appealed to her. Only Christ mattered. She desired only to be alone to seek Him, to pray and do penance. But, when she was with friends, she tried to teach them to be holy and to pray or do penances.
Even though Catherine was the second youngest of twenty-five children born to her parents, Giacomo and Lapa, the family had room for one more. They adopted a young boy who was planning to enter the Dominicans. After dinner he would often read the stories of saints and martyrs to the family, and this made a deep and lasting impression on young Catherine.
When Catherine turned twelve, her parents encouraged her to improve her appearance, hoping she would marry soon. Entirely sure of herself, Catherine told them she would never marry. She repeatedly said that she had already chosen her desired spouse–Christ–and would accept no other. It was to be God or no one.
Excerpted from Fr. T. G. Morrow’s book Who’s Who in Heaven. For ordering information, visit our website.