St. Catherine of Siena, one of the greatest mystics and a doctor of the Church, dedicated her whole life to God–from prayer, to service, to giving spiritual counsel to anyone from beggars to Popes. She was born in 1347, made a perpetual vow of virginity at a very young age, became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, and lived a reclusive life of prayer and penance at home for the first several years of her life. After building this foundation of deep prayer with the Lord, Christ called her to devote the rest of her life to caring for her family, the poor, the sick, and even the plague-stricken, as well as converting “even the most hardened sinners,” giving spiritual counsel, and working to reform the parts of the Church that had become complacent and indulgent in luxury at the time. She wrote “nearly four hundred Letters addressed to kings, Popes, cardinals, bishops, convents of men and women, city corporations and private individuals.” It was she who finally persuaded the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon. Throughout her life, she also experienced numerous visions as well as other miracles, including many surrounding the Eucharist—to which she had a great devotion.
Nourished by the Eucharist Alone
According to the account recorded by her confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, for the last seven years of her life, Catherine ate nothing besides the Eucharist–Yes, you read that correctly! Astoundingly, by a special miracle she was literally nourished by Christ alone and was able to carry out her many works of service and counsel with surprising energy. Many people had their doubts about whether this was true, but here is why the accounts are strongly convincing:
First of all, her confessor had at first told her to stop such severe fasting, but after a time he realized that Catherine literally could not eat anything else, that any food given to her caused her much pain and caused her to regurgitate. Father Raymond wrote in his Life of St. Catherine of Siena that “When she was obliged to take food, she was so incommoded that it would not remain in the stomach and it would be quite impossible to describe her grievous pains on such occasions.”
Secondly, many people suspected that she might be eating food in secret, but she even tried to eat food in front of such people and was unable to keep the food in her stomach. Regarding this, Bl. Raymond wrote:
“Catherine was willing to appease their murmurs, and determined that every day she would go once and take a seat at the common table and endeavor to eat. Although she used neither meat, nor wine, nor drink, nor eggs, and did not even touch bread. What she took, or rather, what she tried to take, caused her such sufferings that those that saw her, however hard-hearted they were, were moved to compassion; her stomach could digest nothing, and rejected whatever was taken into it; she afterwards suffered the most terrible pains and her whole body appeared to be swollen; she did not swallow the herbs which she chewed, she only drew from them their juice and rejected their substance. She then took pure water to cool her mouth; but every day she was forced to throw up what she had taken, and that with so much difficulty that it was necessary to assist her by every possible means. … As I was frequently witness of this suffering, I felt an extreme compassion for her, and I counselled her to let men talk, and spare herself such torture.”
In the end, her confessor allowed her to continue her fast, eating only the Eucharist, and only then was she satisfied, happy, and somehow filled with energy. She lived for another seven years after this, and as her confessor said:
“For the seven year period prior to her death, Saint Catherine of Siena took no food into her body other than the Eucharist. Her fasting did not affect her energy, however. She maintained a very active life during those seven years. As a matter of fact, most of her great accomplishments occurred during that period. Her death had nothing to do with malnutrition, or anything connected with lack of food.”
In fact, Catherine was even “stronger in the afternoon, after having received Our Lord in His Eucharist.” She was completely satisfied physically and spiritually by receiving the Eucharist, and hungered greatly when she was unable to receive. As she said: “God satisfies me so in the Holy Eucharist that it is impossible for me to desire any species of corporal nourishment. … His sole presence satiates me, and I acknowledge that, to be happy, it even suffices for me to see a priest who has just said Mass.”
Other Eucharistic Miracles
Catherine even experienced other great miracles associated with the Eucharist. During the Consecration of the Eucharist at Mass, she saw the Priest transform into Jesus, and another time the Eucharist became the Baby Jesus in the Priest’s hands. Apparently, “One day, a Priest who did not believe in Catherine’s Visions and her special relationship with the Eucharist gave her an unconsecrated host, under the guise it was Holy Communion,” and she immediately knew that it was not the Body and Blood of Christ. Furthermore, many priests reported witnessing various times when the Eucharist moved to her on its own, even flying across the church. Her friends witnessed that whenever she received communion, she would go into an ecstasy of deep union with God and would levitate above the ground.
Ongoing Eucharistic Miracle in Siena
Even today, there is an ongoing Eucharistic miracle in Siena (the home of St. Catherine) in which a collection of around 350 consecrated hosts (the bread which has become the Body and Blood of Christ) was found to be incorrupt and has remained incorrupt from 1730 until today. Over almost 300 years, and they show no signs of decay! This has been verified over the years by numerous scientific tests, the most recent being in 2014, which “included surface investigation under digital microscope, determination of the nucleotide adenosine triphosphate (ATP), culture tests, etc. It confirmed the hosts remain unchanged and free from any abnormalities or decay, contrary to the laws of nature.” (For more information, see the link in the footnote).
These are only a few of the many Eucharistic miracles that have occurred throughout history. Hundreds of these miracles have been recorded, and more information on such miracles can be found on a website created by the blessed Carlo Acutis (a young, holy, modern-day Catholic who died of leukemia in 2006 and whose cause for canonization is underway). You can find the website here. Such incredible miracles are indeed “a gift of God’s love meant to strengthen our faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.”
If you would like to learn more about the Eucharist (whether the biblical and historical support for the Real Presence or other reflections on the Eucharist)–see my other articles on the Eucharist.
God bless you and keep you!
~ Beloved Dreamer ~
 John Laux, Church History (Charlotte, NC: TAN, 2012). 399-400.
 Ibid. 400.
 Ibid. 401.
 Arun Oswin Kostka. “The Fast of St. Catherine of Siena.” Saint Miracles. https://catholicmystics.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-fast-of-st-catherine-of-siena.html
 As quoted by Arun Oswin Kostka. Ibid.
 Arun Oswin Kostka. Ibid.
 As quoted by Arun Oswin Kostka. Ibid.
 Arun Oswin Kostka. Ibid.
 “Siena: Home of St. Catherine of Siena and an Ongoing Eucharistic Miracle.” Traditional Catholic. http://www.traditionalcatholic.co/siena-home-of-st-catherine-of-siena-and-an-ongoing-eucharistic-miracle/