Saint Catherine of Bologna: Spiritual Leader, Woman of Arts

On May 9, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of St. Catherine of Bologna (1413–1463), a Poor Clare celebrated for her devotion and learning.

Excelling in the arts

Caterina Vigri was born into a prominent family of Bologna. Her father brought the family to the city of Ferrera where he served as ambassador. There Catherine was raised at court as a lady-in-waiting. Ferrera was a center of culture at the time, and Catherine received an excellent education in letters, music (she played the viola), and art.

St Catherine of Bologna her Madonna and Child 700pxlsThis Madonna and Child is traditionally ascribed to Saint Catherine of Bologna.

Leading others in the Franciscan tradition

When Catherine reached the marriageable age of 14, however, she chose to abandon court life to join the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara, a community of laywomen living a religious life without formal vows. Shortly after she entered, the community became divided about the path

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