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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Poem, “The One Who Calls Us Friends” by St. Catherine of Siena

Today is St. Catherine of Siena’s feast day.  She is the patron saint of this blog.  I came across this poem in the April 2016 edition of the devotional magazine Magnificat, supposedly written by St. Catherine herself.  The poem was translated by Dr. Lisa M. Vitale of Southern Connecticut University and published in 2012. I hope she doesn’t mind me posting it.

I’m not actually sure where St. Catherine wrote this.  It looks like it’s one of her prayers, which you can read in translation by Suzzane Nofke in The Prayers of Catherine of Siena.  Magnificat credits the work in something called Magliabechiano-Strozziana XXXVIII.  I just don’t know what that is. 

Here is the poem:

The One Who Calls Us Friends

Oh transformed love
  Of Lord God servant and Creator created
  Too much of a dark thing it appears
  Seeing God so humbled
Thinking of your greatness oh my Lord
  The heart lowers itself in the body I shake so
  Seeing you mortal man being God
  Enclosed in the womb of a poor young girl
  My faith turns to nothing
  Thinking of your greatness so removed
  If not it appears that ease opposed
  Crying out God, God, you are crazy
And with enflamed desire
  You go searching for who the young woman is
  Who in herself enclosed this true Word
  With the eyes of the mind of a girl
  I see she is closed in a cell
  Alone worthy of having him
  Such a humble daughter
  Who joined the lover to the loved
And I looking at this holy Virgin
  In whom I see no flaw
  Looking at her from her head down to her feet
  So the more I look at her the more she gives me delight
  Pregnant in appearance
  She shows me and is always with eyes lowered
  And I her servant she makes
  And I find myself bound by her love.
I see well what commodity and the cost of you
  The price that cost you when
  The good Jesus was put on the cross for you
  In order that he pay for you the infernal banishment
  To the heart goes sighing
  Looking up at Jesus on the cross and strongly languishing
  She looks at the shed blood
  With which you were repurchased from death.

It’s interesting that St. Catherine sees the young Virgin “closed in a cell” (l. 17).  Catherine herself was closed in a cell for a number of years as a young woman, partly self-imposed but partly because she refused to marry and that is where her parents forced her to live.

Keep St. Catherine of Siena in mind on her feast day.  And do look up some of her wonderful works.  And kudos to Dr. Vitale for this.  It’s not easy to translate poetry.


  1. Manny,

    You've never explained why St Catherine is the Patron Saint of your Blog, and why you prefer her so.

    I've responded to your comment on my Blog over there.

    God bless.

    1. Victor, just look at the previous post, St. Catherine on TV." I provide links to where I answer why I consider her the patron saint of this blog. She's a natural poet.