Saint Catherine of Siena was a mystic and healer who lived in Italy in the mid 1300's. After her sister's death in childbirth, her parents attempted to marry her to her sister's widower. She began fasting, she cut off her hair, and refused. As her disassociation continued, she informed her parents that she was wed to Jesus, and therefore could not be married to any mortal man. It worked, and she remained unmarried, and in service to the church for the remainder of her life. She traveled throughout Italy, helping the many sick, burying the dead. Her many years of ritual fasting and exposure to the Black Plague took her life at the age of thirty seven. After her death, her final resting place was a source of much debate. While she was scheduled to be interred in Rome, several of her followers broke into the cathedral and stole her head and her right thumb. When confronted at the door by guards, they were searched. As the legend goes, upon opening the bag that held her remains, the guards found only a bag of rose petals. While this story is widely regarded as myth, these relics reside in Siena.
I was raised Roman Catholic. Although I began moving to pagan ritual worship in my teenage years, and where I will remain, I have been continually fascinated by early Catholic mystics. This is the second in a series of many of my favorite saints. Saint Catherine of Siena's story is one of a woman, devoted to something greater than herself, who was not content to be married off, and who's friends loved her so much they stole her head.