The Top 10 St. Catherine of Siena Quotes
Growing up my favorite stories were always the true stories, stories of real people who did real things. So it would only make sense that as I began to get into my faith the stories that would really draw me in would be the stories of the saints. Reading about real people who did real things gave me some inspiration that I might be able to do those things as well. But then I discovered something that gave me even more inspiration than reading about the saints, I began to read what the saints themselves actually wrote and said. My spiritual world began to open up in ways that I could not have imagined. Of course some saints stood out more than others, some saints were given the gift of using words in ways that still leave me marveled.
One of the saints who was able to give the world writings that continue to serve as a well for my own spiritual growth is St. Catherine of Siena. This Dominican philosopher truly had a gift with words, and so rather than try to describe this gift I’d rather simply share my 10 favorite quotes of St. Catherine and let her reveal her wisdom on her own.
1. “Love follows knowledge.”
Drawn from her Dialogues, this quote highlights why she studied philosophy. If philosophy is the love of wisdom, St. Catherine hoped that her study would draw her into love, if it didn’t, the knowledge was useless. I try to remember this quote when it comes time for me to study.
2. “The human heart is drawn by love.”
Also from her Dialogues, this quote really speaks to me during this election cycle. As I see quotes, memes, commercials trying to win my vote I realize the one thing that truly draws me in, the one thing that can truly change my mind, the one thing that can truly change the world, the one thing that truly attracts: love.
3. “God is more willing to pardon than we have been to sin.”
[PHOTO -God the Father and Saint Catherine]
In this year of mercy, any quote that reminds us that God’s mercy is deeper than our sin is a message that feels appropriate. I need to remind myself of this anytime I feel nervous or anxious about going to confession.
4. “What father ever gave up his son to death for the sake of his slave!”
Although there are a couple ways this could be read, the way I choose to read this quote is that it speaks to our dignity. Although we deserve to be less than a slave to our God, He has chosen to make us sharers in his divine nature through the Eucharist. He loves us enough to give us his very self, and therefore we are not slaves.
5. “God was made man and man was made God.”
Continuing the narrative from the quote above, this quote is a great reminder as to the dignity that God has given us. God takes our own sinful nature and redeems it, and gives us a share in his divine life. If we actually sat and thought about this it should simply astound us.
6. "The soul cannot live without love. She always wants to love something because love is the stuff she is made of, and through love I created her." (God to St. Catherine)
The soul came to be because of love, the soul was made for love, and therefore seeks to love. The plumbing of this quote can take a lifetime.
7. "Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!"
This quote always reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI when he says that we aren’t made for comfort but for greatness. Together they remind me to not settle for small and comfortable but to strive for greatness, but greatness only in God.
8. “If you are what you should be, you will set Italy ablaze.”
Often this quote gets a little re-done to say the world rather than Italy, but the same sentiment applies. If we are what we should be, and we’ve seen that St. Catherine means by this a soul that is made from love and made for love will set fire to the world (including Italy). It is love alone that can set this fire.
9. “We trust and believe in what we love.”
If we are made from love, and made for love, we cannot help but grow in trust and belief in what we love, hopefully God. This in turn can only lead to one thing—growing in greater love for that God. It becomes a cycle in which we grow closer and more in love with God.
10. “Love transforms one into what one loves.”
And finally, what is the point of all this being created in love and created for love unless it begins to make us like that which we love- Love itself with a capital L. Thus, by loving we grow in love and we grow into Love itself—this is the heart of the Christian disciple’s life and a call for all of us.
What are your favorite quotes? Tell us in the comments below!
Header Image - Saint Catherine of Siena Writing - Rutilio di Lorenzo Manetti