Caterina da BOLOGNA (1413-1463)

Caterina da Bologna, ICONE SACRE MIRABILE –

As a child she was educated in Bologna by her mother and relatives, because of many absences of her father, an important lawyer from Ferrara, who wants her to learn Latin too. In 1424, at the age of 11, Caterina enters the Este court as a company damsel of Margherita d’Este, natural daughter of Niccolò III. She received the education of her time: she studied music, painting, dance, she learned to write poetry and became an expert in the art of miniature and copying. In 1427 she left the Este court and joined a group of young ladies of noble families who lived in common, the initial intent being to follow Augustinian spirituality. In 1432 she professed with her companions the rule of St. Clare, approved by Pope Innocent IV, and began the Franciscan cloistered life in the monastery of Corpus Domini. (Source: Wikipedia)

«At 13 she joined the female community of the Corpus Domini of Ferrara just in the period when the bishop tried to impose a normalization by accepting the Augustinian rule. Some time after the arrival of Catherine, however, the community opted for the rule of the Poor Clares. […] In 1456, the superiors of the order decided to open a community similar to that of Ferrara in Bologna, and Caterina was entrusted with the task of founding and directing it […] In Bologna, Caterina resumed the ancient habit of cheering up her sisters with intense verses of religious passion, composed and sung for them, inspired by the poetic production of courtly love … We owe her one of the sweetest and most lyric celebrations of mystical marriage. Catherine recounted in a text, The Seven Spiritual Weapons, delivered to her confessor shortly before her death, her intense mystical experience” (Lucetta Scaraffia, p. 25-26).
Caterina and her initial community “of young ladies who lived together” were later, like many other female initiatives that wanted to choose a religious path, although secular, forced to choose a formal religious rule and often the clause. The text by Lucetta Scaraffia allows us to glimpse this disagreement that led to the transformation of the Beguinal movement in Italy.

Sources : Wikipedia and Lucetta Scaraffia, Spose di Dio, in Ruha, Il femminile di Dio, Piccola biblioteca mille lire