St. Catherine of Siena (born March 25, 1347; died at Rome, April 29, 1380) is best known for her influence on Gregory XI during a period that is known as the Babylonian Captivity or Avignon Papacy. During this time the Papacy had become highly politicized. Due to external political influence, Pope Clement V and the next seven popes lived in Avignon, France instead of the eternal city of Rome. As a result, the papacy lost a lot of respect including the respect of a Dominican third order member, Catherine of Siena. Catherine was not afraid to stand up to the Pope or to let the many European leaders of her time know her mind. In 1376 she traveled to Avignon to convince the Pope to return to the Holy See in Rome and reform the curia’s abuse of power.
April 29th is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church. She is one of the greatest female saints of the Catholic Church. She was born in 1347 in the Italian city of Siena. As a young girl – the youngest of twenty-five children – Catherine was a very joyful person. When she was six, she had vision of God and the saints that inspired her to persist in her vocation to join the Dominican sisters despite her parents’ wishes for her to marry as a young woman. (exert from Ave Maria Press)