She thought she could be a martyr….

Anonymous, c. 1500

Heads up.

The 29th of April is, when not displaced by Sunday, the feast-day of Saint Catherine of Siena, the great Dominican tertiary.

The wonderful Maria Lectrix has read and recorded Catherine’s dialogue with God the Father — starting here.

Also edifying: Wikimedia Commons’ gallery of Catherine-of-Siena-related pictures, including this painting of a Carmelite/Dominican/Franciscan triple threat, and some intense images of Catherine’s exchange of hearts with Our Lord.

Project Gutenberg has her Letters in multiple formats for free. The translator and editor of that volume, Vida Scudder, prefaces one of Catherine’s letters to Blessed Raimondo of Capua thus:

With all her longing to suffer for her faith, Catherine was only once, so far as we know, exposed to physical violence. This was on the occasion of which she is here speaking. She is still in Florence, faithful under the new Pope as under the old to her efforts to bring about the passionately desired peace. In a tumult in the disordered city, it came to pass that her life was threatened, and she took refuge with her “famiglia,” in a garden without the walls. Hither her enemies pursued her, but as they drew near, fell back of a sudden, awestruck, as she herself here tells us, by her words and bearing. The danger was averted, and Catherine had met one of the disappointments of her life.*


*Footnote: As she herself expresses it, “The Eternal Bridegroom played a great joke on me.”


  1. This, this is why we Catholics are such ridiculous breeders. We keep telling ourselves that Catherine was the 24th of 25 children.

    In other news, we lost one of our Facebook fans. I blame myself.

  2. Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

    A treasure trove of goodness here. Thank you Brother Angelico, and happy feast day.

    My favorite bit of Catherine-related lore: the devil once pushed her down a flight of steps outside Siena Cathedral, but she escaped serious injury through angelic intervention.

    Whether the account is apocryphal or no, the step is marked with a small cross. (Lest ye doubt, I have photographic evidence.)

    • Matthew Lickona says

      What I want to know is, where was that angel when The Wife took a tumble down the steps outside the museum next to the big church in Orvieto? She got banged up something fierce, and it took a lot of local white wine to kill the pain. Of course, she did fall because she looked up when I pointed out what I thought was a flying buttress. God has a terrible sense of humor that way.

      • Imelda/Sophia, O.P. says

        Uh, I think the assistance in that mischance would have been assumed to be rendered by her husband?

        Could be, too, that the devil here was actually pushing you.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          You seem to have the situation pretty well in hand here, sis.

          Carry on.

        • Matthew Lickona says

          Who do you think administered the wine? And how was I supposed to stand in the way of an omnipotent deity who thought “flying buttress” was just close enough to “head over heels” to be chuckleworthy?

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