"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Notable Quote: Catherine of Siena

In reading Sigrid Undset's Catherine of Siena, I have really grown to love this saintly woman.  I've always considered Francis of Assisi as my personal patron saint, but I think Catherine is going to be a co-patron from the female side, a patroness.  I will have more excerpts from that biography in the near future, but I doubt I will be able to convey her true holiness and greatness with short excerpts.  Both contemplative and active in the world (she convinced Pope Gregory XI to move the papacy from Avignon back to Rome), humble but strong, tough as nails, a true feminist in that she didn't let men and social pressure dictate her life, peace maker (she was the ambassador that brought peace between the papacy and Florence), courageous in expressing the truth, a tireless writer (she typically dictated three letters simultaneously to individual secretaries), mystic, pure as fire, ascetic to the point of not having any flesh on her bones, devout, matriarch to her disciples, mentor, teacher, and theologian, possibly the greatest theologian of her age, she was a truly unique person.  One cannot imagine any woman of her day to have lived such a life or have such a personality.  She was truly an instrument of God.  I found this website, "Drawn By Love," devoted to her, and I hope you explore it.  There is a page there listing some of her quotes.  This one I'll pick as notable:

"It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light."
-St. Catherine of Siena, from Prayer 24.

I don't know the context of her prayer 24, but I pick it for this literary blog because a writer must write of and through shadows to arrive at true meaning.

I also love this image of her dictating to a secretary.  All her secretaries were male, since only men were taught to write, and she had three priests who traveled with her on most of her trips abroad.

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