Catherine de’ Ricci was born April 23, 1522, Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de’ Ricci in Florence to Pier Francesco de’ Ricci and his wife, Caterina Bonza. Catherine’s mother died soon after her birth. When Catherine was 6, her father enrolled her in a school run by a monastery of Benedictine nuns. Catherine’s aunt was the abbess. Catherine was a very prayerful person from a very young age. There she developed a lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. After a short time outside the monastery, she entered the Convent of St Vincent in Prato, Tuscany, a cloistered community of religious sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic, who followed the strict regimen of life she wanted.
In May 1535 she received the religious habit from her uncle, Timoteo de’ Ricci, who was confessor to the convent. She took the religious name of Catherine, after Catherine of Siena.
Catherine’s time as a novitiate was difficult. She would experience visions. This made it seem to others that she was asleep during prayer services. She dropped plates and food so much her community began to question her competence, and maybe her sanity. Eventually, the other Sisters became aware of the spiritual reason for her behavior. She became the prioress by the time she was 30.
She is reported to have been a nun with visions, states Constance Classen, who miraculously held baby Jesus dressed in swaddling clothes.
As the prioress, Catherine was an effective and admired administrator. She was an expert on religion, administration, and management. She advised princes, bishops, and cardinals. She corresponded with three figures who were destined to become popes: Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII, and Pope Leo XI. She gave advice both in person and through letters.
Catherine’s meditation on the Passion of Christ was so deep, sometimes she bled as if scourged. She also bore the Stigmata. During times of deep prayer, like Catherine of Siena, her patron saint, a coral ring representing her marriage to Christ, appeared on her finger.
Some stories say she wore an iron chain around her neck, engaged in extreme fasting and other forms of penance and sacrifice for souls in Purgatory.
One of the miracles documented for her canonization was her appearance many hundreds of miles away from where she was physically located in a vision to Philip Neri, a resident of Rome, with whom she had maintained a long-term correspondence. Neri was very reluctant to discuss miraculous events, confirming the event
Catherine lived in the convent until her death in 1590 after an illness. Her remains are visible under the altar of the Minor Basilica of Santi Vicenzo e Caterina de’ Ricci, next to her convent. de’ Ricci was beatified by Pope Clement XII in 1732, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746