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Letters of Catherine Benincasa by Catherine Benincasa

Part 3 out of 5

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disaster. Even now we see clearly formed in Catherine's mind that strange
sense of responsibility for the sins of her time, so illogical to the
natural, so inevitable to the spiritual vision. "I believe that I am the
wretched woman who is the cause of so great evils!" Thus she cries, not in
rhetorical figure of speech, but in deep conviction. It is a conviction
destined to grow more intense till it leads direct to her spiritual

Out of her pain she turns to the simple women, her daughters and
companions in faith, calling on them to join her in the life of
intercession and expiation. Then her thought fastens on one little lamb of
the flock--one who had strayed and been rescued, and was in danger of
straying again; and in care for this one soul needing shelter and strength
she finds comfort. Catherine's sense of proportion is that of the
spiritual man so finely presented by Browning in the person of Lazarus.
Let Andrea be saved, and the corruption of the Church will seem less
painful! She can say as her last word, "Sweet daughters, now is the time
for toils, which must be our consolations in Christ crucified."

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest daughters in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of
the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood, with
desire to see you established in true patience and deep humility, so that
you may follow the sweet and Spotless Lamb, for you could not follow Him
in other wise. Now is the time, my daughters, to show if we have virtue,
and if you are daughters or not. It behoves you to bear with patience the
persecutions and detractions, slanders and criticisms of your fellow-
creatures, with true humility, and not with annoyance or impatience; nor
must you lift up your head in pride against any person whatever. Know well
that this is the teaching which has been given us, that it behoves us to
receive on the Cross the food of the honour of God and the salvation of
souls, with holy and true patience. Ah me, sweetest daughters, I summon
you on behalf of the Sweet Primal Truth to awaken from the sleep of
negligence and selfish love of yourselves, and to offer humble and
continual prayers, with many vigils, and with knowledge of yourselves,
because the world is perishing through the crowding multitude of
iniquities, and the irreverence shown to the sweet Bride of Christ. Well,
then, let us give honour to God, and our toils to our neighbour. Ah, me,
do not be willing, you or the other servants of God, that our life should
end otherwise than in mourning and in sighs, for by no other means can be
appeased the wrath of God, which is evidently falling upon us.

Ah, me, misfortunate! My daughters, I believe that I am the wretched woman
who is the cause of so many evils, on account of the great ingratitude and
other faults which I have committed toward my Creator. Ah, me! ah, me! Who
is God, who is wronged by His creatures? He is Highest and eternal
Goodness, who in His love created man in His image and likeness, and re-
created him by grace, after his sin, in the Blood of the immaculate and
enamoured Lamb, His Only-Begotten Son. And who is mercenary and ignorant
man, who wrongs his Creator? We are those who are not ourselves by
ourselves, save in so far as we are made by God, but by ourselves we are
full of every wretchedness. It seems as if people sought nothing except in
what way they could wrong God and their fellow-creatures, in contempt of
the Creator. We see with our wretched eyes that Blood which has given us
life persecuted in the holy Church of God. Then let our hearts break in
torment and grieving desire; let life stay in our body no more, but let us
rather die than behold God so reviled. I die in life, and demand death
from my Creator and cannot have it. Better were it for me to die than to
live, instead of beholding such disaster as has befallen and is to befall
the Christian people.

Let us draw the weapons of holy prayer, for other help I see not. That
time of persecution has come upon the servants of God when they must hide
in the caves of knowledge of themselves and of God, craving His mercy
through the merits of the Blood of His Son. I will say no more, for if I
did according to my choice, my daughters, I should never rest until God
removed me from this life.

To thee now I say, Andrea, that he who begins only never receives the
crown of glory, but he who perseveres till death. O daughter mine, thou
hast begun to put thy hand to the plough of virtue, leaving the parbreak
of mortal sin; it behoves thee, then, to persevere, to receive the reward
of thy labour, which thy soul endures, choosing to bridle its youth, that
it may not run to be a member of the devil. Ah me, my daughter! And hast
thou not reflection that thou wast once a member of the devil, sleeping in
the filth of impurity, and that God by His mercy drew thee from that great
misery in which thou wast, thy soul and thy body? It does not befit thee,
then, to be ungrateful nor forgetful, for evil would befall thee, and the
devil would come back with seven companions stronger than at first. Then
thou shalt show the grace thou hast received by being grateful and
mindful, when thou shalt be strong in battles with the devil, the world,
and thy flesh, which vexes thee; thou must be persevering in virtue.
Cling, my daughter, if thou wilt escape such vexations, to the Tree of the
most holy Cross, in bodily abstinence, in vigil and in prayer, bathing
thee by holy desire in the blood of Christ crucified. So thou shalt attain
the life of grace, and do the will of God, and fulfil my desire, which
longs to have thee a true servant of Christ crucified. I beg thee
therefore not to be a child any longer, and to choose for Bridegroom
Christ crucified, who has bought thee with His Blood. If thou yet wishest
the life of the world, it befits thee to wait long enough so that the way
can be found of giving it to thee in a way that shall be for the honour of
God and for thy good. Be subject and obedient till death, and do not
contradict the will of Catarina and Giovanna, who I know will never
counsel thee or tell thee anything that is not for the honour of God and
the salvation of thy soul and body. If thou dost not behave so, thou wilt
displease me very much, and do thyself little good. I hope in the goodness
of God that thou wilt so act that He will be honoured, and thou shalt have
thy reward and give me great consolation.

I tell thee, Catarina and Giovanna, to work till death for the honour of
God and her salvation. Sweet daughters, now is the time for toils, which
must be our consolations in Christ crucified. I say no more. Remain in the
holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


Catherine's beloved sister Daniella is in trouble. As happened to many
others leading the dedicated life in the middle ages, she has carried her
scorn of the body past all bounds of reason, has fallen ill and been
obliged to care for her poor physical nature. Catherine, who is
perpetually trying to raise Fra Raimondo and others in her spiritual
family to more heroic heights, recognizes the different needs of this
over-eager soul. She writes her friend, therefore, a long and tender
letter, one of the most elaborate among her many analyses of the means
that lead to perfection, urging upon her discretion and a sense of
proportion in spiritual things. It is noteworthy that Catherine's
exhortations to impassioned sacrifice are almost always delivered in
connection with the claims of active service, to the Church or fellow-men.
When writing to "contemplatives" absorbed in the ecstasies and trials of
the interior life, her habitual warnings are against excess, her constant
plea, as here, for a perception of relative values. She ranks, herself,
alike as a great "contemplative" and as a great woman of action: both
phases of experience relate to something deeper. Her soul was athirst for
the Infinite, and well she knew that neither in deeds nor in ascetic
ecstasy, but only in "holy desire," in the life of ceaseless aspiration
"which prays for ever in the presence of God," can our mortality attain to
untrammelled union with Infinite Being.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest daughter and sister in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant
and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to thee in His precious
Blood, with desire to see in thee the holy virtue of discretion, which it
is necessary for us to have if we wish to be saved. Why is it so
necessary? Because it proceeds from the knowledge of ourselves and of God;
in this house its roots are planted. It is really an offspring of charity,
which, properly speaking, is discretion--an illumined knowledge which the
soul has, as I said, of God and itself. The chief thing it does is this:
having seen, in a reasonable light, what it ought to render and to whom,
it renders this with perfect discretion at once. So it renders glory to
God and praise to His Name; the soul achieves all its works by this light
and to this end. It renders to God His due of honour--not like an
indiscreet robber, who wants to give honour to himself, and, seeking his
own honour and pleasure, does not mind insulting God and harming his
neighbour. When the roots of inclination in the soul are rotted by
indiscretion, all its works, relating to others or to itself, are rotten.
All relating to others, I say: for it imposes burdens indiscreetly, and
lays down the law to other people, seculars or spiritual, or of whatever
rank they may be. If such a person admonishes or advises, he does it
indiscreetly, and wants to load everyone else with the burden which he
carries himself. The discreet soul, that sees its own need and that of
others reasonably, does just the opposite. When it has rendered to God His
due of honour, it gives its own due to itself--that is, hatred of sin and
of its own fleshliness. What is the reason? The love of virtue, which it
loves in itself. It renders its due to the neighbour with the same light
as to itself, and therefore I said, in relation to itself and to others.
So it gives goodwill to its neighbour, as it is bound to do, loving virtue
in him and hating sin. It loves him as a being created by the Highest
Eternal Father. And it gives him loving charity more or less perfectly,
according as it has this in itself. Yes, this is the principal result
which the virtue of discretion achieves in the soul: it has seen clearly
what due it ought to render, and to whom.

These are three chief branches of that glorious discretion which springs
from the tree of charity. From this tree spring infinite fruits, all
mellow and very sweet, which nourish the soul in the life of grace, when
it plucks them with the hand of free will, and eats them with holy eager
desire. Whatever condition a person may be in, he tastes these fruits, if
he has the light of discretion, in diverse ways, according to his state.
He who is placed in the world, and has this light, gathers the fruit of
obedience to the commands of God, and distaste for the world, of which he
divests himself in mind, although he may be clothed with it in fact. If he
has children, he plucks the fruit of the fear of God, and nourishes them
with this holy fear. If he is a nobleman, he plucks the fruit of justice,
discreetly wishing to render to everyone his due--so he punishes the
unjust man rigorously, and rewards the just, tasting the fruit of reason,
and for no flatteries or servile fear deserts this way. If he is a
subject, he gathers the fruit of obedience and reverence toward his lord,
avoiding any cause or means by which he might offend him. Had he not seen
these things by the light, he would not have avoided them. If men are
monks or prelates, they get from the tree the sweet and pleasing fruit of
observing their Rule, enduring one another's faults, embracing shames and
annoyances, placing on their shoulders the yoke of obedience. The prelate
takes desire for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, seeking to
win them by doctrine and exemplary life. In what different ways and by
what different people these fruits are gathered! It would take too long to
tell them the tongue could not express it.

But let us see, dearest daughter (now we will speak in particular, and so
we shall be speaking in general too), what rule that virtue of discretion
imposes on the soul. That rule seems to me to apply both to the soul and
body of people who wish to live spiritually, in deed and thought. To be
sure, it regulates every person in his rank and place: but let us now talk
to ourselves. The first rule it gives to the soul is that we have
mentioned--to render honour to God, goodwill to one's neighbour, and to
oneself, hatred of sin and of one's own fleshliness. It regulates this
charity toward the neighbour; for it is not willing to sacrifice the soul
to him, since, in order to do him good or pleasure, it is not willing to
offend God; but it flees from guilt discreetly, yet holds its body ready
for every pain and torment, even to death, to rescue a soul, and as many
souls as it can, from the hands of the devil. Also, it is ready to give up
all its temporal possessions to help and rescue the body of its neighbour.
Charity does this, when enlightened with discretion; for discretion should
regulate one's charity to one's neighbour. The indiscreet man does just
the contrary, who does not mind offending God, or sacrificing his soul, to
serve or please his neighbour--sometimes by keeping him company in wicked
places, sometimes by bearing false witness, or in many other ways, as
happens every day. This is the rule of indiscretion, which proceeds from
pride and perverse self-love and the blindness of not having known oneself
or God.

And when measure and rule have been found in regard to charity to the
neighbour, discretion regulates also the matter which keeps the soul in
that charity, and makes it grow--that is, in faithful, humble, and
continual prayer; robing the soul in the cloak of desire for virtue, that
it may not be injured by lukewarmness, negligence, or self-love, spiritual
or temporal: therefore it inspires the soul with this desire for virtue,
that its desire may not be placed on anything by which it might be

Also, it rules and orders the creature physically, in this way: the soul
which is prepared to wish for God makes its beginning as we have said; but
because it has the vessel of its body, enlightened discretion must impose
a rule on this, as it has done upon the soul, since the body ought to be a
means for the increase of virtue. The rule withdraws it from the
indulgences and luxuries of the world, and the conversation of worldlings;
gives it conversation with the servants of God; takes it from dissolute
places, and keeps it in places that stimulate devotion. It imposes
restraint on all the members of the body, that they be modest and
temperate: let the eye not look where it should not, but hold before
itself earth, and heaven; let the tongue flee idle and vain speech, and be
disciplined to proclaim the word of God for the salvation of the
neighbour, and to confess its sins: let the ear flee agreeable,
flattering, dissolute words, and any words of detraction that might be
said to it; and let it hearken for the word of God, and the need of the
neighbour, willingly listening to his necessity. So let the hand be swift
in touching and working, and the feet in going: to all, discretion gives a
rule. And that the perverse law of the flesh that fights against the
spirit may not throw these tools into disorder, it imposes a rule upon the
body, mortifying it with vigil, fast, and the other exercises which are
all meant to bridle our body.

But note, that all this is done, not indiscreetly, but with enlightened
discretion. How is this shown? In this: that the soul does not place its
chief desire in any act of penance. That it may not fall into such a fault
as to take penance for its chief desire, enlightened discretion takes
pains to robe the soul in the desire for virtue. Penance to be sure must
be used as a tool, in due times and places, as need may be. If the flesh,
being too strong, kicks against the spirit, penance takes the rod of
discipline, and fast, and the cilice of many buds, and mighty vigils; and
places burdens enough on the flesh, that it may be more subdued. But if
the body is weak, fallen into illness, the rule of discretion does not
approve of such a method. Nay, not only should fasting be abandoned, but
flesh be eaten; if once a day is not enough, then four times. If one
cannot stand up, let him stay on his bed; if he cannot kneel, let him sit
or lie down, as he needs. This discretion demands. Therefore it insists
that penance be treated as a means and not as a chief desire.

Dost thou know why it must not be chief? That the soul may not serve God
with a thing that can be taken from it and that is finite: but with holy
desire, which is infinite, through its union with the infinite desire of
God; and with the virtues which neither devil nor fellow-creature nor
weakness can take from us, unless we choose. Herein must we make our
foundation, and not in penance. Nay, in weakness the virtue of patience
may be tested; in vexing conflicts with devils, fortitude and long
perseverance; and in adversities suffered from our fellow-beings,
humility, patience, and charity. So as to all other virtues--God lets them
be tested by many contraries, but never taken from us, unless we choose.
Herein must we make our foundation, and not in penance. The soul cannot
have two foundations: either the one or the other must be overthrown. Let
the thing which is not the chief, be used as a means. If I find my chief
principle in bodily penance, I build the city of my soul upon the sand, so
that each little breeze throws it to the earth, and no building can be
erected on it. But if I build upon the virtues, founded upon the Living
Stone, Christ sweet Jesus, there is no building so great that it will not
stand firmly, nor wind so contrary that it can ever blow it down.

From these and many other difficulties that arise, it has not been meant
that penance should be used otherwise than as a means. I have already seen
many penitents who have been neither patient nor obedient, because they
have studied to kill their bodies, but not their wills. The rule of
indiscretion has wrought this. Dost thou know the result? All their
consolations and desires centre in carrying out their penance to suit
themselves, and not to suit anyone else. Therein they nourish their will.
While they can fulfil their penance, they have consolation and gladness,
and seem to themselves full of God, as if they had accomplished
everything; and they do not perceive that they fall into a mere personal
estimate, and into a judicial attitude. For if all people do not walk in
the same way, they seem to them in a state of damnation, an imperfect
state. They indiscreetly want to measure all bodies by one same measure,
by that with which they measure themselves. And if one wants to withdraw
them from this, either to break their will or from some necessity of
theirs, they hold their will harder than a diamond; living in such wise,
that at the time of test by a temptation or injury, they find themselves,
from indulgence in this wrong will, weaker than straw.

Indiscretion taught them that penance bridled wrath, impatience, and the
other sinful impulses that come into the heart; it is not so. This
glorious light teaches thee that thou shalt kill sin in thy soul, and draw
out its roots, with hatred and displeasure against thyself, loading thy
fault with rebuke, with the consideration of who God is whom thou
wrongest, and who thou art who wrongest Him, with the memory of death and
the longing for virtue. Penance cuts off, yet thou wilt always find the
root in thee, ready to sprout again; but virtue pulls up. Earth in which
sins have been planted is always ready to receive them again if self-will
puts them there with free choice; not otherwise, when once the root is
pulled up.

It may happen that a sick body is obliged perforce to give up its habits
of life; then it falls at once into weariness and confusion of mind,
deprived of all gladness: it thinks itself condemned and confounded, and
finds no sweetness in prayer, such as it seemed to have in the time of its
penance. And whither is this sweetness gone? Lost, with the personal will
on which it was built! This cannot be gratified, and so the soul suffers.
And why art thou fallen into such confusion and almost despair? And where
is the hope which thou hadst in the Kingdom of God? All lost, by means of
that very penance through which the soul hoped to have eternal life!
Capable of this no more, it thinks itself deprived of the other.

These are the fruits of indiscretion. Had the soul the light of
discretion, it would see that nothing but being without virtues deprived
it of God; and it has eternal life through virtue, by the Blood of Christ.
Then let us rise above all imperfection, and set our heart, as I said, on
true virtues, which are of such joy and gladsomeness as tongue could not
tell. There is none who can give pain to the soul founded on virtue, or
take from it the hope of heaven; for it has put its self-will to death in
spiritual things as in temporal, and its affections are not set on
penance, or private consolations or revelations, but on endurance through
Christ crucified and the love of virtue. So it is patient, faithful, hopes
in God and not in itself or its works: is humble and obedient, believing
others rather than itself, because it does not presume. It stretches wide
the arms of mercy, and thereby drives forth confusion of mind. In shadows
and conflicts it uplifts the light of faith, labouring manfully, with true
and profound humility; and in gladness it enters into itself, that the
heart may not fall into vain glee. It is strong and persevering, because
it has put to death its own will, which made it weak and inconstant. All
times are the right time for it; all places the right place. If it is in a
season of penance, this is a time of gladness and consolation to it, using
penance as a means; and if, by necessity or obedience, penance has to be
abandoned, it rejoices; because its chief foundation, in the love of
virtue, cannot be and is not taken from it; and because it sees the
contradiction of its own will, which it has been enlightened to perceive
must always be resisted with great diligence and zeal.

It finds prayer in every place, for it bears ever with it the place
wherein God lives by grace, and where we ought to pray--that is, the house
of our soul wherein holy desire prays constantly. This desire is uplifted
by the light of the mind to be reflected in itself and in the immeasurable
flame of divine love, which it finds in the Blood shed for us, which by
largess of love it finds in the vase of the soul. This it cares and should
care to know, that it may drink deep of the Blood, and therein consume its
self-will--and not simply to accomplish the count of many paternosters. So
we shall make our prayer continuous and faithful; because in the fire of
His love we know that He is powerful to give us what we ask. He is Highest
Wisdom, who knows how to give and discern what we need; He is a most
piteous and gracious Father, who wishes to give us more than we desire,
and more than we know how to ask for our need. The soul is humble, for it
has recognized its own defects and that in itself it is not. This is the
kind of prayer through which we attain virtue, and preserve in our souls
the longing for it.

What is the beginning of so great good? Discretion, the daughter of
charity, as I said. And it presents straightway to its neighbour the good
which it has itself. So it seeks to present to its fellow-creature the
foundation it has found, and the love and the teaching it has received,
and shows these by example of life and doctrine, advising when it sees
need or when advice were asked of it. It comforts the soul of its
neighbour, and does not confound him by leading him into despair when he
has fallen into some fault; but tenderly it makes itself ill with that
soul, giving him what healing it can, and enlarging in him hope in the
Blood of Christ crucified.

The virtue of discretion gives this and infinitely many other fruits to
the neighbour. Then, since it is so useful and necessary, dearest and most
beloved daughter and sister mine in Christ sweet Jesus, I summon thee and
me to do what in past time I confess not to have done with that perfection
which I should. It has not happened to thee as to me, to have been and to
be very faulty, or over-lax and easy-going in my life, instead of strict,
through my fault; but thou, as one who has wished to subdue her youthful
body that it be not rebel to the soul, hast chosen a life so extremely
strict that apparently it is out of all bounds of discretion; in so much
that it seems to me that indiscretion is trying to make thee feel some of
its results, and is quickening thy self-will in this. And now that thou
art leaving what thou art accustomed to do, the devil apparently is trying
to make it seem to thee that thou art damned. I am very much distressed at
this, and I believe that it is a great offence against God. Therefore I
will and I beg thee that our beginning and foundation be in the love of
virtue, as I said. Kill thy self-will, and do what thou art made to do;
pay attention rather to how things look to others than to thyself. Thou
dost feel thy body weak and ill; take every day the food that is needed to
restore nature. And if thy illness and weakness are relieved, undertake a
regular life in moderation, and not intemperately. Do not consent to let
the little good of penance hinder the greater; nor array thyself therein
as thy chief affection--for thou wouldst find thyself deceived: but wish
that we may haste in sincerity upon the beaten road of virtue, and that we
may guide others on this same road, breaking and shattering our own wills.
If we have the virtue of discretion in us, we shall do it; otherwise, not.

Therefore I said that I desired to see in thee the holy virtue of
discretion. I say no more. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God.
Forgive me should I have talked too presumptuously; the love of thy
salvation, through the honour of God, is my reason. Sweet Jesus, Jesus




Catherine's interest in public affairs is rising and widening. This letter
marks an inner crisis. Her thoughts and deeds have, as we have seen, been
already busied for some time with the dissension between the Pope and his
rebellious Tuscan people: now the hour has come when she is to feel
herself solemnly dedicated, by a divine command, to the great task of
reconciliation. We overhear her, as it were, thinking out in her Master's
presence and with His aid the deepest questions which the situation
suggests: and as we listen to that colloquy, so natural, so sweetly
familiar, so deeply reverent, we feel that no problems, however sorrowful
and perplexing, could be hopeless there. From communion with her Lord, she
went forth strong and reassured into the stormy action of her time. Christ
Himself, so she tells us, placed the Cross upon her shoulder and the olive
in her hand, changed her mourning into a high and rapturous hope, and bade
her go, strong in the faith, to bear His message of joy "to one and the
other people." Thus she should be shown in art--Cross-bearer like her
Lord, and holding to the world the sign of reconciliation. Thus did she
start upon the Via Dolorosa of the peace-maker; from now on we shall
follow her in her letters, as she treads that way of sorrows which was
also the way of life.

The experience here described fell on the first of April, 1376. Early in
May, the Florentines, knowing of her holy fame, sent for her to come to
their city and give them counsel. For to defy the Vicar of Christ was a
fearsome thing, and many hearts were uneasy in the rebellious town.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest my sons in Christ Jesus. I your poor mother have longed
passionately to see your hearts and affections nailed to the Cross, held
together by the bond which grafted God into man and man into God. So my
soul longs to see your affections grafted into the Incarnate Word Christ
Jesus, in such wise that nor demons nor creatures can divide you. For if
you are held and enkindled by sweet Jesus, I do not fear that all the
devils of hell with all their wiles can separate you from so sweet love
and union. So I wish, because there is mighty need, that you should never
cease from throwing fuel on the fire of holy desire--the fuel of the
knowledge of yourselves. For that is the fuel which feeds the fire of
divine charity: charity which is won by knowledge of the inestimable love
of God, and then unites the soul with its neighbour. And the more material
one gives to the flame--that is, the more fuel of self-knowledge--the more
the warmth of the love of Christ and one's neighbour increases. Abide,
then, hidden in the knowledge of yourselves, and do not live
superficially, lest Devil Malatasca catch you with many illusions and
reflections against one another: this he would do to take from you your
union in divine charity. So I will and command you that the one be subject
to the other, and each bear the faults of the other; learning from the
Sweet Primal Truth, who chose to be the least of men, and humbly bore all
our faults and iniquities. So I will that you do, dearest sons; love,
love, love one another. And joy and exult, for the summer-tide draws near.

For the first of April, especially in the night, God opened His secrets,
showing His marvellous things in such a wise that my soul did not seem to
be in the body, and received such joy and plenitude as the tongue does not
suffice to tell. He explained and made clear part by part the mystery of
the persecution which Holy Church is now enduring, and of her renewal and
exaltation, which shall be in time to come: saying that the present crisis
is permitted to restore her to her true condition. The Sweet Primal Truth
quoted two words which are in the Holy Gospel--"It must needs be that
offences come into the world": and then added: "But woe to him by whom the
offence cometh." As if He said: "I permit this time of persecution, to
uproot the thorns, with which My bride is wholly choked; but I do not
permit the evil thoughts of men. Dost thou know what I do? I am doing as I
did when I was in the world, when I made the scourge of cords, and drove
out those who sold and bought in the Temple, not choosing that the House
of God should be made a den of thieves. So I tell thee that I am doing
now. For I have made a scourge out of human beings, and with that scourge
I drive out the impure traffickers, greedy, avaricious, and swollen with
pride, who buy and sell the gifts of the Holy Spirit." Yes, He was driving
them forth with the scourge of the persecutions of their fellow-beings--
that is, by force of tribulation and persecution He put an end to their
disorderly and immodest living.

And, the fire growing in me, I gazed and saw the Christian people and the
infidel enter into the side of Christ crucified; and I passed through the
midst of them, by my loving and longing desire, and entered with them into
Christ Sweet Jesus, accompanied by my father St. Dominic, and John the
Single, with all my sons together. Then He placed the Cross on my shoulder
and the olive in my hand, almost as if I had asked for them, and said that
thus I should bear them, to the one and to the other people. And He said
to me: "Tell them, I bring you tidings of great joy." Then my soul became
more full; it was lost to itself among the true believers who feed upon
the Divine Substance, by the uniting force and longing of love. And so
great was the delight of my soul, that it no longer realized its past
affliction from seeing God wronged; nay! I said: "O blessed and fortunate
wrong!" Then sweet Jesus smiled, and said: "Is sin fortunate, which is
nothing at all? Dost thou know what St. Gregory meant when he said,
'Blessed and fortunate fault'? What element is it that thou holdest as
fortunate and blessed, and that Gregory calls so?" I replied as He made me
reply, and said: "I see well, sweet my Lord, and well I know, that sin is
not worthy of good fortune, and is not fortunate nor blessed in itself;
but the fruit may be, which comes from sin. It seems to me that Gregory
meant this: that through the sin of Adam, God gave us the Word, His only-
begotten Son, and the Word gave His Blood, so that, giving His life, He
restored life with a great fire of love. So, then, sin is fortunate, not
through the sin itself, but from the fruit and the gift we receive by that
sin." Now, so it is. Thus from the wrong done by the wicked Christians who
persecute the Bride of Christ, spring her exaltation, her light, and the
fragrance of her virtues. This was so sweet that there seemed no
comparison between the wrong, and the unsearchable goodness and benignity
of God, which He showed toward His Bride. Then I rejoiced and exulted, and
was so arrayed in assurance of the time to come that I seemed to possess
and taste it. And I said then with Simeon: "Nunc dimittis servum tuum,
Domine, secundum verbum tuum, in pace." So many mysteries were wrought in
me as tongue cannot suffice to tell nor heart to think nor eye to see.

Now, what tongue could suffice to tell the wonderful things of God? Not
mine, poor wretch that I am. Therefore I choose to keep silence, and to
give me wholly to seeking the honour of God and the salvation of souls and
the renewal and exaltation of Holy Church, and through grace and power of
the Holy Spirit to persevere even unto death. With this desire I called
our Christ on earth, and I will call him, with great love and compassion,
and you, father, and all my dear sons; I made and was granted your
petition. Rejoice, then, rejoice and exult. O sweet God our Love, fulfil
quickly the desires of thy servants! I will say no more--and I have said
nothing. I die, delayed in my desires. Have compassion on me. Pray the
divine Goodness and Christ on earth that there be no more loitering.
Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Drown you in the Blood of
Christ crucified; and on no account faint, but rather take comfort.
Rejoice, rejoice, in your sweet labours. Love, love, love one another.
Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


The conflicts of the cloister and of the court are not dissimilar; and the
first, to Catherine, are as real and significant as the second. She writes
in a familiar strain to Sister Bartolomea. The truths on which she is
insisting have been reiterated in every age by guides to the spiritual
life. But whenever, as here, they come from the depths of personal
experience, they possess peculiar freshness and force; and, indeed, this
Colloquy of the Saint of Siena with her Lord has become a _locus
classicus_ in the literature of the interior life.

One likes to note, in passing, how frequently Catherine urges frail,
cloistered women, sheltered from all the din and storm of outer life, to
"manfulness." "Virile," "virilmente"--they are among her especial words.
And, indeed, they well befit her own spirit, singularly vigorous and
fearless for a woman whose feminine sensitiveness is evident in every
letter she writes.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest daughter in Christ Jesus. I Catherine, servant and slave of the
servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire
to see you a true bride, consecrated to the eternal Bridegroom. It belongs
to a bride to make her will one with that of her bridegroom; she cannot
will more than he wills, and seems unable to think of anything but him.
Now do you so think, daughter mine, for you, who are a bride of Christ
crucified, ought not to think or will anything apart from Him--that is,
not to consent to any other thoughts. That thoughts should not come, this
I do not tell thee--because neither thou nor any created being couldst
prevent them. For the devil never sleeps; and God permits this to make His
bride reach perfect zeal and grow in virtue. This is the reason why God
sometimes permits the mind to remain sterile and gloomy, and beset by many
perverse cogitations, so that it seems unable to think of God, and can
hardly remember His Name.

Beware, when thou mayest feel this in thyself, lest thou fall into
weariness or bewildered confusion, and do not give up thy exercises nor
the act of praying, because the devil may say to thee: "How does this
prayer uplift thee, since thou dost not offer it with any feeling or
desire? It would be better for thee not to make it." Yet do not give up,
nor fall for this into confusion, but reply manfully: "I would rather
exert myself for Christ crucified, feeling pain, gloom and inward
conflicts, than not exert myself and feel repose." And reflect, that this
is the state of the perfect; if it were possible for them to escape Hell,
and have joy in this life and joy eternal beside, they do not want it,
because they delight so greatly in conforming themselves to Christ
crucified; nay, they want to live rather by the way of the Cross and pain,
than without pain. Now what greater joy can the bride have than to be
conformed to her bridegroom, and clothed with like raiment? So, since
Christ crucified in His life chose naught but the Cross and pain, and
clothed Him in this raiment, His bride holds herself blessed when she is
clothed in this same raiment; and because she sees that the Bridegroom has
loved her so beyond measure, she loves and receives Him with such love and
desire as no tongue can suffice to tell. Therefore the Highest and Eternal
Goodness, to make her attain most perfect love and possess humility,
permits her many conflicts and a dry mind, that the creature may know
itself and see that it is not. For were it anything, it would free itself
from pain when it chose, but being naught it cannot. So, knowing itself,
it is humbled in its non-existence, and knows the goodness of God, which,
through grace, has given it being, and every grace that is founded upon

But thou wilt say to me: "When I have so much pain, and suffer so many
conflicts and such gloom, I can see nothing but confusion; and it does not
seem as if I could take any hope, I see myself so wretched." I reply to
thee, my daughter, that if thou shalt seek, thou shalt find God in thy
goodwill. Granted that thou feel many conflicts, do thou not therefore
feel thy will deprived of wishing God. Nay, this is the reason why the
soul mourns and suffers, because it fears to offend God. It ought then to
joy and exult, and not to fall into confusion through its conflicts,
seeing that God keeps its will good, and gives it hatred of mortal sin.

I remember that I heard this said once to a servant of God, and it was
said to her by the Sweet Primal Truth, when she was abiding in very great
pain and temptation, and among other things, felt the greatest confusion,
in so much that the devil said: "What wilt thou do? for all the time of
thy life thou shalt abide in these pains, and then thou shalt have hell."
She then answered with manly heart, and without any fear, and with holy
hatred of herself, saying: "I do not avoid pains, for I have chosen pains
for my refreshment. And if at the end He should give me hell, I will not
therefore abandon serving my Creator. For I am she who am worthy of
abiding in hell, because I wronged the Sweet Primal Truth; so, did He give
me hell, He would do me no wrong, since I am His." Then our Saviour, in
this sweet and true humility, scattered the shadows and torments of the
devil, as it happens when the cloud passes that the sun remains; and
suddenly came the Presence of Our Saviour. Thence she melted into a river
of tears, and said in a sweet glow of love: "O sweet and good Jesus, where
wast thou when my soul was in such affliction?" Sweet Jesus, the Spotless
Lamb, replied: "I was beside thee. For I move not, and never leave My
creature, unless the creature leave Me through mortal sin." And that woman
abode in sweet converse with Him, and said: "If Thou wast with me, how did
I not feel Thee? How can it be that being by the fire, I should not feel
the heat? And I felt nothing but freezing cold, sadness, and bitterness,
and seemed to myself full of mortal sins." He replied sweetly, and said:
"Dost thou wish Me to show thee, daughter mine, how in those conflicts
thou didst not fall into mortal sin, and how I was beside thee? Tell me,
what is it that makes sin mortal? Only the will. For sin and virtue
consist in the consent of the will; there is no sin nor virtue, unless
voluntarily wrought. This will was not in thee; for had it been, thou
wouldst have taken joy and delight in the suggestions of the devil; but
since the will was not there, thou didst grieve over them, and suffer for
fear of doing wrong. So thou seest that sin and virtue consist in choice--
wherefore I tell thee that thou shouldst not, on account of these
conflicts, fall into disordered confusion. But I will that from this
darkness thou derive the light of self-knowledge, in which thou mayest
gain the virtue of humility, and joy and exult in a good will, knowing
that then I abide in thee secretly. The will is a sign to thee that I am
there; for hadst thou an evil will, I should not be in thee by grace. But
knowest thou how I thus abide in thee? In the same way in which I hung
upon the wood of the Cross. And I take the same way with you that my
Father took with Me. Reflect, daughter mine, that upon the Cross I was
blessed and was sorrowful; blessed I was by the union of the divine and
the human nature, and nevertheless the flesh endured pain, because the
Eternal Father withdrew His power to Himself, letting Me suffer; but He
did not withdraw the union in which He was for ever united with Me.
Reflect that in this way I abide in the soul; for often I withdraw to
myself feeling, but do not withdraw grace, since grace is never lost,
except by mortal sin, as I said. But knowest thou why I do this? Only to
make the soul reach true perfection. Thou knowest that the soul cannot be
perfect unless borne on these two wings, humility and charity. Humility is
won through the knowledge of itself, into which it enters in the time of
darkness; and charity is won by seeing that I, through love, have kept its
will holy and good. Wherefore, I tell thee, that the wise soul, seeing
that from this experience proceeds such profit, reassures itself (and for
no other cause do I permit the devil to give you temptations), and will
hold this time dearer than any other. Now I have told thee the way I take.
And reflect, that such experience is very necessary to your salvation; for
if the soul were not sometimes pressed by many temptations, it would fall
into very great negligence, and would lose the exercise of continual
desire and prayer. Because in the hour of battle it is more alert, through
fear of its foes, and provisions the rock of its soul, having recourse to
Me who am its Fortitude. But this is not the intention of the devil--for
I permit him to tempt you that he may make you attain virtue, though he,
on his part, tempts you to make you attain despair. Reflect that the devil
will tempt a person who is dedicated to My service, not because he
believes that the man may actually fall into that sin, for he sees at once
that he would choose death rather than actually to do wrong. But what does
he do? He exerts himself to make the man fall into confusion, saying: 'No
good is of any use to you, on account of these thoughts and impulses that
come to you.' Now thou seest how great is the malice of the devil; for,
not being able to conquer in the first battle, he often conquers in the
second, under guise of virtue. Wherefore I do not want thee ever to follow
his malicious will; but I want thee to assume My will, as I have told
thee. This is the rule which I give thee, and which I wish thee to teach
others when there is need."

Now thus I tell thee, dearest my daughter, that I want thee to do. And be
for me a mirror of virtue, following the footsteps of Christ crucified.
Bathe thee in the Blood of Christ crucified, and so live, as is my will,
that thou nor seek nor will aught but the Crucified, like a true bride,
bought with the Blood of Christ crucified. Well seest thou that thou art a
bride, and that He has wedded thee and every creature, not with a ring of
silver, but with the ring of His Flesh. O depth and height of Love
unspeakable, how didst Thou love this Bride, the human race! O Life
through which all things do live, Thou hast plucked it from the hands of
the devil, who possessed it as his own; from his hands Thou hast plucked
it, catching the devil with the hook of Thy humanity, and hast wedded it
with Thy flesh. Thou hast given Thy Blood for a pledge, and at the last,
sacrificing Thy body, Thou hast made the payment. Now drink deep, my
daughter, and fall not into negligence, but arise with true zeal, and by
this Blood may the hardness of thy heart be broken in such wise that it
never may close again, for any ignorance or negligence, nor for the speech
of any creature. I say no more. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God.
Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


Catherine, sent by the Florentines as their representative to the Pope,
has reached Avignon and seen the Holy Father. Far from being overawed in
his presence, she has evidently felt toward him a mingling of sympathy and
tenderness not untouched by compassion. She is impressed by the
sensitiveness of the man--by the strength of the adverse influences
continually playing upon him from his own household; above all, by his
extreme timidity. The gentle, reassuring tone of this letter is almost
like that of a mother encouraging a dear but weak-spirited child to make
his own decisions and to abide by them. Catherine's sweetness of nature
preserves her from viewing Gregory with any tinge of contempt; but we
cannot help feeling the contrast between this frail woman of heroic soul
and the hesitating figure of the Pope.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Most holy and blessed father in Christ sweet Jesus: your poor unworthy
little daughter Catherine comforts you in His precious Blood, with desire
to see you free from any servile fear. For I consider that a timorous man
cuts short the vigour of holy resolves and good desire, and so I have
prayed, and shall pray, sweet and good Jesus that He free you from all
servile fear, and that holy fear alone remain. May ardour of charity be in
you, in such wise as shall prevent you from hearing the voice of incarnate
demons, and heeding the counsel of perverse counsellors, settled in self-
love, who, as I understand, want to alarm you, so as to prevent your
return, saying, "You will die." And I tell you on behalf of Christ
crucified, most sweet and holy father, not to fear for any reason
whatsoever. Come in security: trust you in Christ sweet Jesus: for, doing
what you ought, God will be above you, and there will be no one who shall
be against you. Up, father, like a man! For I tell you that you have no
need to fear. You ought to come; come, then. Come gently, without any
fear. And if any at home wish to hinder you, say to them bravely, as
Christ said when St. Peter, through tenderness, wished to draw Him back
from going to His passion; Christ turned to him, saying, "Get thee behind
Me, Satan; thou art an offence to Me, seeking the things which are of men,
and not those which are of God. Wilt thou not that I fulfil the will of My
Father?" Do you likewise, sweetest father, following Him as His vicar,
deliberating and deciding by yourself, and saying to those who would
hinder you, "If my life should be spent a thousand times, I wish to fulfil
the will of my Father." Although bodily life be laid down for it, yet
seize on the life of grace and the means of winning it for ever. Now
comfort you and fear not, for you have no need. Put on the armour of the
most holy Cross, which is the safety and the life of Christians. Let talk
who will, and hold you firm in your holy resolution. My father, Fra
Raimondo, said to me on your behalf that I was to pray God to see whether
you were to meet with an obstacle, and I had already prayed about it,
before and after Holy Communion, and I saw neither death nor any peril.
Those perils are invented by the men who counsel you. Believe, and trust
you in Christ sweet Jesus. I hope that God will not despise so many
prayers, made with so ardent desire, and with many tears and sweats. I say
no more. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Pardon me, pardon me.
Jesus Christ crucified be with you. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


Catherine's letters to great personages whom she did not know are, as
would be expected, less searching and fresh than the many written with a
more personal inspiration, but they afford at least an interesting
testimony to the breadth of her interests. This letter to Charles V. was
evidently written during her stay at Avignon, where she formed relations
with the Duke of Anjou, and received his promise to lead in the
prospective Crusade. Avignon was a centre of intellectual life and of
European politics, and Catherine must have been quickened there to think
more than ever before in large terms and on great issues. To think of a
matter is always, for her, to feel a sense of responsibility toward it;
she writes, accordingly, to Charles V., urging him to make peace with his
brother monarch: "For so," says the maid of Siena serenely to the great
King--"So you will fulfil the will of God and me."

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest lord and father in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and
slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood:
with desire to see you observe the holy and sweet commands of God, since I
consider that in no other way can we share the fruit of the Blood of the
Spotless Lamb. Sweet Jesus, the Lamb, has taught us the Way: and thus He
said: "Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita." He is the sweet Master who has
taught us the doctrine, ascending the pulpit of the most holy Cross.
Venerable father, what doctrine and what way does He give us? His way is
this: pains, shames, insults, injuries, and abuse; endurance in true
patience, hunger and thirst; He was satiate with shame, nailed and held
upon the Cross for the honour of the Father and our salvation. With His
pains and shame He gave satisfaction for our guilt, and the reproach in
which man had fallen through the sin committed. He has made restitution,
and has punished our sins on His own Body, and this He has done of love
alone and not for debt.

This sweet Lamb, our Way, has despised the world, with all its luxuries
and dignity, and has hated vice and loved virtue. Do you, as son and
faithful servant of Christ crucified, follow His footsteps and the way
which He teaches you: bear in true patience all pain, torment, and
tribulation which God permits the world to inflict on you. For patience is
not overcome, but overcomes the world. Be, ah! be a lover of virtue,
founded in true and holy justice, and despise vice. I beg you, by love of
Christ crucified, to do in your state three especial things. The first is,
to despise the world and yourself and all its joys, possessing your
kingdom as a thing lent to you, and not your own. For well you know that
nor life nor health nor riches nor honour nor dignity nor lordship is your
own. Were they yours, you could possess them in your own way. But in such
an hour a man wishes to be well, he is ill; or living, and he is dead; or
rich, and he is poor; or a lord, and he is made a servant and vassal. All
this is because these things are not his own, and he can only hold them in
so far as may please Him who has lent them to him. Very simple-minded,
then, is the man who holds the things of another as his own. He is really
a thief, and worthy of death. Therefore I beg you that, as The Wise, you
should act like a good steward, made His steward by God; possessing all
things as merely lent to you.

The other matter is, that you maintain holy and true justice; let it not
be ruined, either for self-love or for flatteries, or for any pleasing of
men. And do not connive at your officials doing injustice for money, and
denying right to the poor: but be to the poor a father, a distributer of
what God has given you. And seek to have the faults that are found in your
kingdom punished and virtue exalted. For all this appertains to the divine
justice to do.

The third matter is, to observe the doctrine which that Master upon the
Cross gives you; which is the thing that my soul most desires to see in
you: that is, love and affection with your neighbour, with whom you have
for so long a time been at war. For you know well that without this root
of love, the tree of your soul would not bear fruit, but would dry up,
abiding in hate and unable to draw up into itself the moisture of grace.
Alas, dearest father, the Sweet Primal Truth teaches it to you, and leaves
you for a commandment, to love God above everything, and one's neighbour
as one's self. He gave you the example, hanging upon the wood of the most
holy Cross. When the Jews cried "Crucify!" He cried with meek and gentle
voice: "Father, forgive those who crucify Me, who know not what they do."
Behold His unsearchable love! For not only does He pardon them, but
excuses them before His Father! What example and teaching is this, that
the Just, who has in Him no poison of sin, endures from the unjust the
punishment of our iniquities!

Oh, how the man should be ashamed who follows the teaching of the devil
and his own lower nature, caring more to gain and keep the riches of this
world, which are all vain, and pass like the wind, than for his soul and
his neighbour! For while abiding in hate with his neighbour, he has hate
by his side, since hate deprives him of divine charity. Surely he is
foolish and blind, for he does not see that with the sword of hate to his
neighbour he is killing himself.

Therefore I beg you, and will that you follow Christ crucified, and love
your neighbour's salvation: proving that you follow the Lamb, who for
hunger of His Father's honour and the salvation of souls chose bodily
death. So do you, my lord! Care not if you lose from your worldly
substance; for loss will be gain to you, provided that you can reconcile
your soul with your brother. I marvel that you are not willing to devote
to this, not only temporal things, but even, were it possible, life
itself: considering how great destruction of souls and bodies there has
been, and how many Religious and women and children have been injured and
exiled by this war. No more, by love of Christ crucified! Do you not
reflect of how great harm you are cause, if you fail to do what you can?
Harm to the Christians, and harm to infidels. For your strife has
obstructed the mystery of the Holy Crusade, and is doing so still. If no
other harm than this followed, it seems to me that we ought to expect the
divine judgment. I beg you that you be no longer a worker of so great harm
and an obstructer of so great good as the recovery of Holy Land and of
those poor wretched souls who do not share in the Blood of the Son of God.
Of which thing you ought to be ashamed, you and the other Christian
rulers: for this is a very great confusion in the sight of men and
abomination in the sight of God, that war should be made against one's
brother, and the enemy left alone, and that a man should want to take away
another person's possessions and not to win his own back again. No more
such folly and blindness! I tell you, on behalf of Christ crucified, that
you delay no longer to make this peace. Make peace, and direct all your
warfare to the infidels. Help to encourage and uplift the standard of the
most holy Cross, which God shall demand from you and others at the point
of death--demanding also from you account for such ignorance and
negligence as has been committed and is committed every day. Sleep no
more, for love of Christ crucified, and for your own profit, during the
little time that remains to us: for time is short, and you are to die, and
know not when.

May the flame of holy desire to follow this holy Cross and to be
reconciled with your neighbour, increase in you! In this wise you will
follow the way and doctrine of the Lamb slain and abandoned on the Cross,
and you will observe the commandments. You will follow the way, enduring
with patience the injuries that have been offered you; the doctrine, being
reconciled with your neighbour; and the love of God, which you will
manifest by following the most holy Cross in the holy and sweet Crusade.
As to this matter, I think that your brother, Messer the Duke of Anjou,
will undertake the labour of this holy enterprise, for the love of Christ.
There would be reason for self-reproach did so sweet and holy a mystery
remain unfulfilled through you. Now in this wise you will follow the
footsteps of Christ crucified, you will fulfil the will of God and me, and
His commands: as I told you that I wished to see you observe the holy
commands of God. I say no more. Pardon my presumption. Remain in the holy
and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


The Florentines played with Catherine as history shows that subtle folk to
have played with more than one of the friends whose services they
accepted; the story of their dealings with her strongly recalls the
situation in Browning's _Luria_. Having been despatched ostensibly with
full powers as harbinger of the formal embassy to be sent later, Catherine
carried through her part of the negotiations with expedition, prudence and
entire success. It shows how such unconventional democracy and matter-of-
fact respect for spiritual values existed in the later middle ages, that
no one seems to have been surprised at the situation. Apparently it was
considered quite natural that a powerful republic should send as its
representative to the papal court a young woman, the daughter of simple
tradespeople, whose life had been quietly passed in her father's house.
Gregory bore himself to Catherine with compunctious deference. On the
third day after her arrival she spoke in full consistory, pleading the
cause of peace. The result she records in this letter: the Pope put the
whole matter in her hands. To the young Dominican were left the terms of
reconciliation between the two rival powers.

All now depended upon the arrival of the Florentine ambassadors; but these
gentlemen failed to appear, while Florence continued to pursue a
contumacious policy. The insult, alike to the Pope and to Catherine, was
obvious. Avignon jested, shrugged shoulders, finally sneered. Gregory
gently told Catherine the truth--that her friends had played her false.
Few more mortifying situations than that in which she found herself could
be conceived.

The spirited letter which follows was written ten days after her arrival.
She speaks, as usual, without reserve, but it is noteworthy that the
letter contains no word of personal reproof beyond the quiet statement:
"You might bring great shame and reproach upon me. For nothing but shame
and confusion could result if I told the Pope one thing and you another."
When at last the ambassadors arrived, they brought small comfort, for they
refused to confer with Catherine. In the second letter, written after they
had come to a personal friend in Florence, she tells the situation
frankly, and with dignity, but still with remarkable freedom from personal
bitterness. In this time of test, no lower element than sorrow for the
failure of her cause appears to have been present in her mind.


In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest fathers and brothers in Christ Jesus: I Catherine, servant and
slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood:
with desire to see you true sons, humble and obedient to your father in
such wise that you may never look back, but feel true grief and bitterness
over the wrong that you have done to your father. For if he who does wrong
does not rise in grief above the wrong he has done, he does not deserve to
receive mercy. I summon you to true humiliation of your hearts; not
looking back, but going forward, following up the holy resolutions which
you began to take, and growing stronger in them every day, if you wish to
be received in the arms of your father. As sons who have been dead, do you
ask for life; and I hope by the goodness of God that you shall have it, if
you are willing really to humble yourselves and to recognize your faults.

But I complain strongly of you, if it is true what is said in these parts,
that you have imposed a tax upon the clergy. If this is so, it is a very
great evil for two reasons. The first is that you are wronging God by it,
for you cannot do it with a good conscience. But it seems to me that you
are losing your conscience and everything good; it seems as if you cared
for nothing but transitory things of sense, that pass like the wind. Do
you not see that we are mortal, and must die, and know not when? Therefore
it is great folly to throw away the life of grace, and to bring death on
one's own self. I do not wish you to do so any more, for if you did you
would be turning back, and you know that it is not he who begins who
deserves glory, but he who perseveres to the end. So I tell you that you
would never reach an effective peace, unless by perseverance in humility,
no longer insulting or offending the ministers and priests of Holy Church.

This is the other thing that I was telling you was harmful and bad. For
beside the evil I spoke of that comes from wronging God, I tell you that
such action is ruin to your peace. For the Holy Father, if he knew it,
would conceive greater indignation against you.

That is what some of the cardinals have said, who are seeking and eagerly
desiring peace. Now, hearing this report, they say: "It doesn't seem true
that the Florentines want to have peace made; for if it were true, they
would beware of any least action that was against the will of the Holy
Father and the habits of Holy Church." I believe that sweet Christ on
earth himself may say these and like words, and he has excellent reason to
say them if he does.

I tell you, dearest fathers, and I beg you, not to choose to hinder the
grace of the Holy Spirit, which by no merits of yours He by His clemency
is disposed to give you. You might bring great shame and reproach upon me.
For nothing but shame and confusion could result if I told the Holy Father
one thing and you did another. I beg you that it may not be so any more.
Nay, do you exert yourselves to show in word and deed that you wish peace
and not war.

I have talked to the Holy Father. He heard me graciously, by God's
goodness and his own, showing that he had a warm love of peace; like a
good father, who does not consider so much the wrong the son has done to
him, as whether he has become humble, so that he may be shown full mercy.
What peculiar joy he felt my tongue could not tell. Having discussed with
him a good length of time, at the end of our talk he said that if your
case were as I presented it to him, he was ready to receive you as sons,
and to do what seemed best to me. I say no more here. It seems to me that
absolutely no other answer ought to be given to the Holy Father until your
ambassadors arrive. I marvel that they are not here yet. When they shall
have come, I shall talk to them, and then to the Holy Father, and as I
shall find things disposed I will write you. But you, with your taxes and
frivolities, are spoiling all that is sown. Do so no more, for the love of
Christ crucified and for your own profit. I say no more. Remain in the
holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

Given in Avignon, the 28th day of June, 1376.


In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest brother in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of
the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with
desire to see you and the others your lords, pacify your heart and soul in
His most sweet Blood, wherein all hate and warfare is quenched, and all
human pride is lowered. For in the Blood man sees God humbled to his own
level, assuming our humanity, which was opened and nailed and fastened on
the Cross, so that it flows from the wounds of the Body of Christ
crucified, and pours over us the Blood which is ministered to us by the
ministers of Holy Church. I beg you by the love of Christ crucified to
receive the treasure of the Blood given you by the Bride of Christ. Be
reconciled, be reconciled to her in the Blood; recognize your sins and
offences against her. For he who recognizes his sin, and shows that he
does so by his deeds, and humbles him, always receives mercy. But he who
shows repentance only in speech, and goes no further in works, never finds
it. I do not say this so much for you as for others who might fall into
this fault.

Oh me, oh me, dearest brother! I mourn over the methods which have
prevailed in asking the Holy Father for peace. For words have been more in
evidence than deeds. I say this because when I came yonder into the
presence of you and your lords, they seemed by their words to have
repented for their wrong, and to be willing to humble themselves and to
ask mercy from the Holy Father. And when I said to them: "See, gentlemen,
if you intend to show all possible humility in deed and speech, and wish
me to offer you like dead children to your father, I will take all the
trouble you wish in this matter, otherwise I will not go yonder," they
answered me that they were content. Alas, alas! dearest brothers, this was
the way and the door by which you ought to have entered, and there is no
other. Had this way been followed in deed as in word, you would have had
the most glorious peace that anyone ever gained. And I do not say this
without reason, for I know what the Holy Father's disposition was; but
since we began to leave that path, following the astute ways of the world,
doing differently from what our words had previously implied, the Holy
Father has had reason, not for peace, but for more disturbance. For when
your ambassadors came into these parts, they did not hold to the right way
which the servants of God indicated to them. You went on in your own ways.
And I never had a chance to confer with them, as you told me that you
would direct when I asked for a letter of credentials, so that we might
confer together about everything, and you said: "We do not believe that
this thing will ever be accomplished by any other hands than those of the
servants of God." Exactly the contrary has been done. All is because we
have not yet true recognition of our faults. I perceive that those humble
words proceeded rather from fear and policy than from a real impulse of
love and virtue; for had the wrong done really been recognized, deeds
would have corresponded to the sound of words, and you would have trusted
your needs and what you wished from the Holy Father to the hands of the
true servants of God. They would so have conducted your affairs and those
of the Holy Father that you would have reached a good understanding. You
have not done it; wherefore I have felt great bitterness, over the wrong
done to God and over our loss.

But you do not see what evil and what great misfortunes come from your
obstinacy, and clinging fast to your resolution! Oh me, oh me! loose
yourselves from the bond of pride, and bind you to the humble Lamb; and do
not scorn or oppose His Vicar. No more thus! For the love of Christ
crucified! Hold not His Blood cheap! That which has not been done in past
time, do it now. Do not feel bitter or scornful should it seem to you that
the Holy Father demanded what appeared very hard and impossible to do.
Nevertheless he will not wish anything but what is possible to you. But he
does as a true father, who beats his son when he does wrong. He reproves
him very severely, to make him humble, and cognizant of his fault; and the
true son does not grow angry with his father, for he sees that whatever he
does is done for love of him; therefore the more the father drives him
off, the more he returns to him, ever asking for mercy. So I tell you, on
behalf of Christ crucified, that the more times you should be spurned by
our father Christ on earth, so many times you are to flee to him. Let him
do as he will, for he is right.

Behold that now he is coming to his bride, that is to hold the seat of St.
Peter and St. Paul. Do you run to him at once, with true humility of heart
and amendment of your sins, following the holy principle with which you
began. So doing, you shall have peace, spiritual and bodily. And if you do
in any other way, our ancestors never had so many woes as we shall have,
for we shall call down the wrath of God upon us, and shall not share in
the Blood of the Lamb.

I say no more. Be as urgent as you can, now that the Holy Father is to be
at Rome. I have done, and shall do, what I can, until death, for the
honour of God and for your peace, in order that this obstacle may be
removed, for it hinders the holy and sweet Crusade. If no other ill should
come from it, we are worthy of a thousand hells. Comfort you in Christ our
sweet Jesus, for I hope by His goodness that if you will keep in the way
you should you will have a good peace. Remain in the holy and sweet grace
of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


The attempt to reconcile Gregory with the Florentines miscarried through
their own fault. Catherine, far from being daunted by mortification or
failure, bent herself with new energy to the cause which she had even more
deeply at heart--the return of the Pope to Rome. The ascendency which she
obtained over his sensitive spirit was soon evident to everyone, and no
sooner was it realized than counter influences were set to work. Other
people beside this woman of Siena could write letters, and, since Gregory
proved superstitious and susceptible to the influence of holy fools, why,
there were ecstatics enough in Europe! The Pope, as is obvious from this
reply of Catherine's, had received an anonymous epistle, craftily wrought,
purporting to come from a man of God, working on his well-known love for
his family and timidity of nature, warning him of poison should he venture
to return to Rome. Whether Catherine's surmise that the letter was a
forgery proceeding from the papal court was justified we do not know; the
episode is of interest to us now chiefly because it called forth a reply
which shows how sardonic the meek of the earth can be. Catherine's
trenchant exposure of the weakness of the anonymous correspondent shows
her in a new aspect. Terrible is the scorn of the gentle. "He who wrote it
does not seem to me to understand his trade very well; he ought to put
himself to school," writes she, and proceeds with analysis so convincing
and exhortation so invigorating that even the vacillating Gregory must
have been magnetized afresh with power to resolve. One feels in the letter
that Catherine is as near impatience with him and with the situation as is
permitted to a saint. Gregory must have felt the sting in her words when
she tells him plainly that his correspondent treats him like a coward or a
frightened child, and adds on her own part, "I pray you on behalf of
Christ crucified that you be no longer a timorous child, but manly. Open
your mouth, and swallow down the bitter for the sake of the sweet." If
anyone could hold a weak nature true to its better self, it would be this
woman, endued as she was with a vitality that tingles through her words
down the centuries.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Most holy and reverend sweet father in Christ sweet Jesus: your poor
unworthy daughter Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus
Christ, writes to your Holiness in His precious Blood, with desire to see
you so strong and persevering in your holy resolve that no contrary wind
can hinder you, neither devil nor creature. For it seems that your enemies
are disposed to come, as Our Saviour says in His holy gospel, in sheeps'
raiment, looking like lambs, while they are ravening wolves. Our Saviour
says that we should be on our guard against such. Apparently, sweet
father, they are beginning to approach you in writing; and beside writing,
they announce to you the coming of the author, saying that he will arrive
at your door when you know it not. The man sounds humble when he says, "If
it is open to me, I will enter and we will reason together"; but he puts
on the garment of humility only that he may be believed. And the virtue in
which pride cloaks itself is really boastful.

So far as I have understood, this person has treated your Holiness in this
letter as the devil treats the soul, who often, under colour of virtue and
compassion, injects poison into it. And he uses this device especially
with the servants of God, because he sees that he could not deceive them
with open sin alone. So it seems to me that this incarnate demon is doing
who has written you under colour of compassion and in holy style, for the
letter purports to come from a holy and just man, and it does come from
wicked men, counsellors of the devil, who cripple the common good of the
Christian congregation and the reform of Holy Church, self-lovers, who
seek only their own private good. But you can soon discover, father,
whether it came from that just man or not. And it seems to me that, for
the honour of God, you must investigate.

So far as I can understand, I do not think the man a servant of God, and
his language does not so present him--but the letter seems to me a
forgery. Nor does he who wrote it understand his trade very well. He ought
to put himself to school--he seems to have known less than a small child.

Notice, now, most Holy Father: he has made his first appeal to the
tendency that he knows to be the chief frailty in man, and especially in
those who are very tender and pitiful in their natural affections, and
tender to their own bodies--for such men as these hold life dearer than
any others. So he fastened on this point from his first word. But I hope,
by the goodness of God, that you will pay more heed to His honour and the
safety of your own flock than to yourself, like a good shepherd, who ought
to lay down his life for his sheep.

Next, this poisonous man seems on the one hand to commend your return to
Rome, calling it a good and holy thing; but, on the other hand, he says
that poison is prepared for you there; and he seems to advise you to send
trustworthy men to precede you, who will find the poison on the tables--
that is, apparently, in bottles, ready to be administered by degrees,
either by the day, or the month, or the year. Now I quite agree with him
that poison can be found--for that matter, as well on the tables of
Avignon or other cities as on those of Rome: and prepared for
administration slowly, by the month, or the year, or in large quantities,
as may please the purchaser: it can be found everywhere. So he would think
it well for you to send, and delay your return for this purpose he
proposes that you wait till divine judgment fall by this means on those
wicked men who, it would seem, according to what he says, are seeking your
death. But were he wise, he would expect that judgment to fall on himself,
for he is sowing the worst poison that has been sown for a long time in
Holy Church, inasmuch as he wants to hinder you from following God's call
and doing your duty. Do you know how that poison would be sown? If you did
not go, but sent, as the good man advises you, scandal and rebellion,
spiritual and temporal, would be stirred up--men finding a lie in you, who
hold the Seat of Truth. For since you have decided on your return and
announced it, the scandal and bewilderment and disturbance in men's hearts
would be too great if they found that it did not happen. Assuredly he says
the truth: he is as prophetic as Caiphas when he said: "It is necessary
for one man to die that the people perish not." He did not know what he
was saying, but the Holy Spirit, who spoke the truth by his mouth, knew
very well--though the devil did not make him speak with this intention. So
this man is likely to be another Caiphas. He prophesies that if you send,
men will find poison. Truly so it is; for were your sins so great that you
stayed and they went, your confidants will find poison bottled in their
hearts and mouths, as was said. And not only enough for one day, but it
would last the month and the year before it was digested. Much I marvel at
the words of this man, who commends an act as good and holy and religious,
and then wants this holy act to be given up from bodily fear! It is not
the habit of the servants of God ever to be willing to give up a spiritual
act or work on account of bodily or temporal harm, even should life itself
be spent: for had they done thus, none of them would have reached his
goal. For the perseverance of holy and good desire into good works, is the
thing which is crowned, and which merits glory and not confusion.

Therefore I said to you, Reverend Father, that I desired to see you firm
and stable in your good resolution (since on this will follow the
pacification of your rebellious sons and the reform of Holy Church) and
also to see you fulfil the desire felt by the servants of God, to behold
you raise the standard of the most holy Cross against the infidels. Then
can you minister the Blood of the Lamb to those wretched infidels: for you
are cupbearer of that Blood, and hold the keys of it.

Alas, father, I beg you, by the love of Christ crucified, that you turn
your power to this swiftly, since without your power it cannot be done.
Yet I do not advise you, sweet father, to abandon those who are your
natural sons, who feed at the breasts of the Bride of Christ, for bastard
sons who are not yet made lawful by holy baptism. But I hope, by the
goodness of God, that if your legitimate sons walk with your authority,
and with the divine power of the sword of holy Writ, and with human force
and virtue, these others will turn to Holy Church the Mother, and you will
legalize them. It seems as if this would be honour to God, profit to
yourself, honour and exaltation to the sweet Bride of Christ Jesus, rather
than to follow the foolish advice of this just man, who propounds that it
would be better for you and for other ministers of the Church of God to
live among faithless Saracens than among the people of Rome and Italy.

I am pleased by the commendable hunger that he has for the salvation of
the infidels, but I am not pleased that he wishes to take the father from
his lawful sons, and the shepherd from the sheep gathered in the fold. I
think he wants to treat you as the mother treats the child when she wants
to wean him: she puts something bitter on her bosom, that he may taste the
bitterness before the milk, so that he may abandon the sweet through fear
of the bitter; because a child is more easily deluded by bitterness than
by anything else. So this man wants to do to you, suggesting to you the
bitterness of poison and of great persecution, to delude the childishness
of your weak sensuous love, that you may leave the milk through fear: the
milk of grace, which follows on your sweet return. And I beg of you, on
behalf of Christ crucified, that you be not a timorous child, but manly.
Open your mouth, and swallow down the bitter for the sweet. It would not
befit your holiness to abandon the milk for the bitterness. I hope by the
infinite and inestimable goodness of God, that if you choose He will show
favour to both us and to you; and that you will be a firm and stable man,
unmoved by any wind or illusion of the devil, or counsel of devil
incarnate, but following the will of God and your good desire, and the
counsel of the servants of Jesus Christ crucified.

I say no more. I conclude that the letter sent to you does not come from
that servant of God named to you, and that it was not written very far
away; but I believe that it comes from very near, and from the servants of
the devil, who have little fear of God. For in so far as I might believe
that it came from that man, I should not hold him a servant of God unless
I saw some other proof. Pardon me, father, my over-presumptuous speech.
Humbly I ask you to pardon me and give me your benediction. Remain in the
holy and sweet grace of God. I pray His infinite Goodness to grant me the
favour soon, for His honour, to see you put your feet beyond the threshold
in peace, repose, and quiet of soul and body. I beg you, sweet father, to
grant me audience when it shall please your Holiness, for I would find
myself in your presence before I depart. The time is short: therefore,
wherever it may please you, I wish that it might be soon. Sweet Jesus,
Jesus Love.


Catherine succeeded in her great aim. In September, 1376, Gregory actually
started for Rome. Her mission being ended, Catherine set forth on her
homeward journey on the same day as the Pope, though by a different route.
But her progress was interrupted at Genoa, where, owing to illness among
her companions, she was detained for a month in the house of Madonna
Orietta Scotta. Her prolonged absence seems to have been too much for the
patience of Monna Lapa, who was always unable to understand in the least
the actions of her puzzling though beloved child. Catherine, though lifted
into the region of great anxieties and great triumphs, was yet always
tenderly mindful of the claims of home. Very daughterly, very gently wise,
is this little letter to the lonely and fretful mother, written when the
saint had just passed through those exciting and decisive months at the
Papal court.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest mother in Christ sweet Jesus: Your poor, unworthy daughter
Catherine comforts you in the precious Blood of the Son of God. With
desire have I desired to see you a true mother, not only of my body but of
my soul; for I have reflected that if you are more the lover of my soul
than of my body, all disordinate tenderness will die in you, and it will
not be such a burden to you to long for my bodily presence; but it will
rather be a consolation to you, and you will wish, for the honour of God,
to endure every burden for me, provided that the honour of God be wrought.
Working for the honour of God, I am not without the increase of grace and
power in my soul. Yes, indeed, it is true that if you, sweetest mother,
love my soul better than my body, you will be consoled and not
disconsolate. I want you to learn from that sweet mother, Mary, who, for
the honour of God and for our salvation, gave us her Son, dead upon the
wood of the most holy Cross. And when Mary was left alone, after Christ
had ascended into Heaven, she stayed with the holy disciples; and although
Mary and the disciples had great consolation together, and to separate was
sorrow, nevertheless, for the glory and praise of her Son, for the good of
the whole universal world, she consented and chose that they should go
away. And she chose the burden of their departure rather than the
consolation of their remaining, solely through the love that she had for
the honour of God and for our salvation. Now, I want you to learn from
her, dearest mother. You know that it behoves me to follow the will of
God; and I know that you wish me to follow it. His will was that I should
go away; which going did not happen without mystery, nor without fruit of
great value. It was His will that I should come, and not the will of man;
and whoever might say the opposite, it is not the truth. And thus it will
behove me to go on, following His footsteps in what way and at what time
shall please His inestimable goodness. You, like a good, sweet mother,
must be content, and not disconsolate, enduring every burden for the
honour of God, and for your and my salvation. Remember that you did this
for the sake of temporal goods, when your sons left you to gain temporal
wealth; now, to gain eternal life, it seems to you such an affliction that
you say that you will go and run away if I do not reply to you soon. All
this happens to you because you love better that part which I derived from
you--that is, your flesh, with which you clothed me--than what I have
derived from God. Lift up, lift up your heart and mind a little to that
sweet and holiest Cross where all affliction ceases; be willing to bear a
little finite pain, to escape the infinite pain which we merit for our
sins. Now, comfort you, for the love of Christ crucified, and do not think
that you are abandoned either by God or by me. Yet shall you be comforted,
and receive full consolation; and the pain has not been so great that the
joy shall not be greater. We shall come soon, by the mercy of God; and we
should not have delayed our coming now, were it not for the obstacle we
have had in the serious illness of Neri. Also Master Giovanni and Fra
Bartolommeo have been ill.... I say no more. Commend us.... Remain in the
holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love!


Monna Lapa was evidently not the only mother in Siena who fretted over the
long absence from home of Catherine and her spiritual children. Monna
Giovanna, of the noble family of the Maconi, longed for the presence of
Catherine's secretary, her beloved son Stefano. This is the second letter
which Catherine wrote in the effort to reconcile her. We cannot be
surprised if she murmured. Stefano had known Catherine for a few months
only when she bore him off with her to Avignon. Their relations dated from
January, 1376, when at his entreaty she healed a feud of long standing
between the Maconi and the rival house of the Tolomei. From this time he
attached himself to her person, and his devotion to her made him an object
of ridicule to his bewildered former friends. He was, by all accounts, a
singularly attractive and lovable young man--sunny, light-hearted, and
popular wherever he went. Catherine from the first loved him, as she avows
in this letter, with especial tenderness. She made him her trusted
intimate, and from now until shortly before her death he was in almost
constant attendance upon her, or when away was still occupied in her
affairs. Catherine was evidently on intimate and affectionate terms with
the rest of the Maconi family also; but it is not strange if Monna
Giovanna developed a little motherly jealousy, as she saw her brilliant
son not only absorbed by this new friendship, but borne away to distant
lands. Catherine's letter is as applicable to-day as then, to all parents
whose misguided tenderness would seek to hinder their children in a high

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

To you, dearest sister and daughter in Christ Jesus: I Catherine, servant
and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write in His precious Blood,
with desire to see you clothed in the wedding garment. For I consider that
without this garment the soul cannot please its Creator, nor take its
place at the Marriage Feast in the enduring life. I wish you, therefore,
to be clothed in it; and in order that you may clothe you the better, I
wish you to divest yourself of all self-love according to nature and the
senses, which you feel for yourself, your children, and any other created
thing. You ought to love neither yourself nor anything else apart from
God; for it is impossible that a man can serve two masters; if he serve
the one, he does not give satisfaction to the other. And there is no one
who can serve both God and the world, for they have no harmony with each
other. The world seeks honour, rank, wealth, sons in high place, good
birth, sensuous pleasure and indulgence, all rooted in perverted pride;
but God seeks and wants exactly the opposite. He wants voluntary poverty,
a humbled heart, disparagement of self and of every worldly joy and grace;
that personal honour be not sought, but the honour of God and the
salvation of one's neighbour. Let a man seek only in what way he may
clothe him in the fire of most ardent charity with the ornament of sweet
and sincere virtue, with true and holy patience; let him take no revenge
on another for any injury his neighbour may show him, but endure all in
patience, seeking only to pass sentence on himself, because he sees that
he has wronged the Sweet Primal Truth. And what he loves, let him love in
God, and apart from God love nothing.

And did you say to me, "In what way should I love?" I answer you that
children and everything else should be loved for love of Him who created
them, and not for love of one's self or the children; and that God should
never be wronged for their sake or any other. That is, do not love through
regard to any utility, nor as your own thing, but as a thing lent to you:
since whatever is given us in this life is given for use, as a loan, and
is left to us so long only as pleases the Divine Goodness which gave it
us. You should use everything, then, as a steward of Christ crucified,
spending your temporal substance so far as is possible to you for the
poor, who stand in the place of God; and so you ought to spend your
children, nourishing and educating them ever in the fear of God, and
wishing that they should die rather than wrong their Creator. Oh, make a
sacrifice of yourself and them to God! And if you see that God is calling
them, offer no resistance to His sweet will: but if they welcome it with
one hand, do you reach out both like a true loving mother, who loves their
salvation; do not desire to shape their lives to suit yourself--for this
would be a sign that you loved them apart from God--but with any state to
which God calls them, with that be you content. For a mother who loves her
children according to the wickedness of the world, says many a time: "It
pleases me well that my children should please God; they can serve Him in
the world as well as anywhere else." But it happens often to these simple
mothers, who want to plunge their children in the world, that later they
possess those children neither in the world nor in God. And it is a just
thing that they should be deprived of them, spirit and body, since such
ignorance and pride reigns in them that they want to lay down law and rule
to the Holy Spirit, who is calling them. Such people do not love their
children in God, but with sensuous self-love apart from God, for they love
their bodies more than their souls. Never, dearest sister and daughter in
Christ sweet Jesus, could he clothe himself in Christ crucified who had
not first divested him of this. I hope by the goodness of God that all
this will not apply to you, but that you will give yourself and them to
the honour and glory of the Name of God, like a true good mother, and so
shall you be clothed in the Wedding Garment. But in order that you may
clothe you the better, I want that you should lift your desire and heart
above the world and all its doings, and that you should open the eye of
the mind to know what love God bears to you, who has given you, for love,
the Word, His Only-Begotten Son; and the Son in burning love has given you
life, and has sacrificed His Body that He might cleanse us with His Blood.
Ignorant are we and wretched who nor know nor love so great a benefit! But
all this is because our eyes are closed; for were they open, and had they
fastened themselves on Christ crucified, they would not be ignorant nor
ungrateful in presence of so great grace. Therefore I say to you, keep
your eyes ever open, and fasten them fixedly on the Lamb that was slain,
in order that you may never fall into ignorance.

Up, sweetest daughter, let us delay no more! Let us recover the time we
have lost, with true and perfect love; so that, clothing ourselves in this
life with the garment I spoke of, we may joy and exult at the Marriage
Feast in the enduring life--you and your husband and your children
together. And comfort you sweetly, and be patient, and do not grow
disturbed because I have kept Stefano so long: for I have taken good care
of him, for by love and tenderness I have become one thing with him,
therefore I have treated your things as if they were my own. I think you
have not taken this in bad part. I wish to do whatever I can for him and
for you, even to death. You, mother, bore him once; and I wish to bear him
and you and all your family, in tears and sweats, by continual prayers and
desire for your salvation.

I say no more. Commend me to Currado, and bless all the rest of the
family, and especially my little new plant, that has just been planted
anew in the Garden of Holy Church. Be it commended to you, and do you
bring it up for me virtuously, so that it may shed fragrance among the
other flowers. God fill you with His most sweet favour. Remain in the holy
and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


Apart from her relations with Religious seeking to follow the Counsels,
Catherine directed the life of a number of devout laymen. Among these was
Ristoro Canigiani, an honourable citizen of Florence, whose younger
brother, Barduccio, became one of her secretaries, and was with her at her
death. In the first letter to Ristoro here given, we see that he had
already become Catherine's disciple. He had evinced his sincerity by
forgiving his enemies--a feat more practical and difficult for most men in
those days than now--by withdrawing in a measure from society--
(ecclesiastical, one notes, as well as secular)--and by embracing the
simple life, selling his superfluous possessions. In the second letter
given, he has evidently advanced in experience. Like many religious souls
since his day, he suffers from scruples lest he be unworthy to receive the
Holy Communion. Catherine handles his difficulties tenderly and wisely, in
words which all anxious souls would do well to take to heart. She has no
reproofs for this excellent man, only applause and encouragement. It is
noteworthy that neither in these letters nor in any others does she seek
to induct Ristoro into that region of ecstatic mystery where she herself
lived, and whither she was wont to expect--often in vain--certain of her
friends to follow her. The standard which she sets for this devout layman
could not be better summed up than in the familiar words: "A sober, godly,
and righteous life."

In other letters to Ristoro she seeks to inspire him with a fervour of
charity by very beautiful meditations, in which she presents the love of
friends and family as sanctified and glorified by its relation to the all-
enfolding Love from which all pure human affection must proceed. In her
attitude toward the natural world and its claims, Catherine again recalls
St. Bernard, who, in naming the degrees of love, starts from an hypothesis
which sets forth natural things, not as evil and destroying, but good, and
waiting their transfiguration. Like poor Francesca, but with a conception
more pure, Catherine rings the changes on the words "amore," "amare."
"Perocche, condizione e del' amore d' amare quando si sente amare, d'
amare tutte le cose che ama colui ch' egli ama. E pero, a mano che l'
anima ha conosciuto l' amore del suo Creatore verso di lui, l' ama: e
amandolo, ama tutte quelle cose che Dio ama." "For it is of the nature of
love, to love when it feels itself loved, and to love all things loved of
its beloved. So when the soul has by degrees known the love of its Creator
toward it, it loves Him, and, loving Him, loves all things whatsoever that
God loves." ... As we read, we recognize once more how far is this great
Mystic from the cold asceticism that has sometimes been attributed to her.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest brother in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of
the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood, with
desire to see you constant and persevering in virtue; for it is not he who
begins who is crowned, but only he who perseveres. For Perseverance is the
Queen who is crowned; she stands between Fortitude and true Patience, but
she alone receives a crown of glory. So I want you, dearest brother, to be
constant and persevering in virtue, that you may receive the reward of
your every labour. I hope in the great goodness of God that He will
fortify you in such wise that neither demon nor fellow-creature can make
you look back to your vomit.

You seem, according to what you write me, to have made a good beginning,
in which I rejoice greatly for your salvation, seeing your holy desire.
First, you say that you have forgiven every man who had wronged you or
wished to wrong you. This is a thing which is very necessary, if you wish
to have God in your soul through grace, and to be at rest even according
to the world. For he who abides in hate is deprived of God and is in a
state of condemnation, and has in this life the foretaste of hell; for he
is always gnawing at himself, and hungers for vengeance, and abides in
fear. Believing to slay his enemy, he has first killed himself, for he has
slain his soul with the knife of hate. Such men as these, who think to
slay their enemy, slay themselves. He who truly forgives through the love
of Christ crucified, has peace and quiet, and suffers no perturbation; for
the wrath that perturbs is slain in his soul, and God the Rewarder of
every good gives him His grace and at the last eternal life. What joy the
soul, then, receives, and gladness and rest in its conscience, the tongue
could never tell. And even according to the world, very great honour is
given to the man who through love of virtue and magnanimity does not
greedily desire to wreak vengeance on his enemy. So I summon you and
comfort you, to persevere in this holy resolution.

To demand and obtain your own in a reasonable way, this you can do with
good conscience; whoever wants to can do it: for a man is not bound to
abandon his possessions more than he chooses; but he who would choose to
abandon them would reach a much greater perfection. It is well and
excellent not to go to the Bishop's house nor to the palace, but to stay
peaceably at home. For if other people get excited, we are weak, and often
we find our own soul excited, and doing unjust and irrational things, one
to show that he knows more than another, and one from appetite for money.
Yes, it is better to keep away from the place.

But I add one thing: that when such poor men and women as are clearly in
the right, and have no one to help them, show us the reason why they have
no money, it would be greatly to the honour of God for you to undertake
their cause, from the impulse of charity, like St. Ives, who in his time
was the lawyer of the poor. Consider that the deed of pity, and
ministering to the poor with those faculties which God has given you, is
very pleasing to God, and salvation to your soul. Therefore St. Gregory
says that it is impossible that a pitiful man should perish with an evil,
that is, an eternal death. This, then, pleases me much, and I beg you to
do it.

In all your works put God before your eyes, saying to yourself when
intemperate appetite would lift its head against the resolution you have
made: "Consider, my soul, that the eye of God is upon thee, and sees the
secret of thy heart. Thou art mortal, for thou must die, and knowest not
when; and it shall befit thee to render account before the highest Judge
of what thou shalt do--a Judge who punishes every fault and rewards every
good deed." In this wise, if you put on the bit it will not slip off,
separating from the will of God.

You ought to give satisfaction to your soul as soon as you can, and
unburden your conscience of what you feel it burdened with. Give it
satisfaction, either for the trouble it has felt in giving up temporal
possessions, or for the other annoyances that others have given it. And
have pardon asked fully from everyone, in order that you may always remain
in the joy of charity with your neighbour. As for selling the goods which
you have over and above, and the showy garments (which are very harmful,
dearest brother, and a means of penetrating the heart with vanity, and
nourishing it with pride, since they make a man seem to be more and bigger
than others, boasting of what one ought not to boast of; so it is great
shame to us, false Christians, to see our Head tormented, and to abide
ourselves in such luxuries: so St. Bernard says, that it is not fitting
for limbs to be delicate beneath a thorn-crowned Head),--I say that you do
very well to find a remedy for this. But clothe you as you need, modestly,
at no immoderate price, and you will greatly please God. And, so far as
you can, make your wife and your sons do the same; so that you may be to
them example and teacher, as the father should be, who should educate his
sons with the words and deeds of virtue.

I add one thing; that you abide in the state of marriage, with fear of
God, and treat it with reverence as a sacrament, and not with intemperate
desire. Hold in due reverence the days ordered by Holy Church, like a
reasonable man, and not a brute beast. Then from yourself and her, like
good trees, you will bring forth good fruits.

You will do very well to refuse offices; for a man seldom fails to give
offence in them. It ought to weary you simply to hear them mentioned. Let
the dead, then, bury themselves, and do you exert yourself, in liberty of
heart, to please God, loving Him above everything in the desire of virtue,
and your neighbour as yourself, fleeing the world and its delights.
Renounce your sins and your own fleshly instincts, ever bringing back to
memory the favours of God, and especially the favour of the Blood, shed
for us with such fire of love.

Again, it is needful for you, if you wish your soul to preserve grace and
grow in virtue, to make your holy confession often for your joy, that you
may wash your soul's face in the Blood of Christ. At least once a month,
since indeed we soil it every day. If more, more; but less it seems to me
ought not to be done. And rejoice in hearing the Word of God. And when the
season shall come that we are reconciled with our Father, do you
communicate on the solemn Feasts, or at least once a year: rejoicing in
the Office, and hearing Mass every day; and if you cannot every day, at
least you must make an effort, just as far as you can, on the days which
are ordered by Holy Church, to which we are bound.

Prayer must not be far from you. Nay, on the due and ordered hours, so far
as you can, seek to withdraw a little, to know yourself, and the wrongs
done to God, and the largess of His goodness, which has worked and is
working so sweetly in you; opening the eye of your mind in the light of
most holy faith, to behold how beyond measure God loves us; love which He
shows us through the means of His only-begotten Son. And I beg that, if
you are not saying it already, you should say every day the office of the
Virgin, that she may be your refreshment and your advocate before God. As
to ordering your life, I beg you to do it. Fast on Saturday, in reverence
for Mary. And never give up the days commanded by Holy Church, unless of
necessity. Avoid being at intemperate banquets, but live moderately, like
a man who does not want to make a god of his belly. But take food for
need, and not for the wretched pleasure it gives. For it is impossible
that any man who does not govern himself in eating should keep himself

But I am sure that the infinite goodness of God, as regards this and all
the rest, will make you yourself adopt that rule which will be needful for
your salvation. And I will pray, and will make others pray, that He grant
you perfect perseverance until death, and illumine you concerning that
which you have to do for your salvation. I say no more to you. Remain in
the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest son in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the
servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire
to see you free from every particle of self-love, so that you may not lose
the light and knowledge which come from seeing the unspeakable love which
God has for you. And because it is light which makes us know this, and
false love is what takes light from us, therefore I have very great desire
to see it quenched in you. Oh, how dangerous this self-love is to our
salvation! It deprives the soul of grace, for it takes from it the love of
God and of its neighbour, which makes us live in grace. It deprives us of
light, as we said, because it darkens the eye of the mind, and when the
light is taken away we walk in darkness, and do not know what we need.

What do we need to know? The great goodness of God, and His unspeakable
love toward us; the perverse law which always fights against the Spirit,
and our own wretchedness. In this knowledge the soul begins to render His
due to God; that is, glory and praise to His Name, loving Him above
everything, and the neighbour as one's self, with eager desire for virtue;
and the soul bestows hate and displeasure on itself, hating in itself
vice, and its own sensuousness, which is the cause of every vice. The soul
wins all virtue and grace in the knowledge of itself, abiding therein with
light, as was said. Where shall the soul find the wealth of contrition for
its sins, and the abundance of God's mercy? In this House of Self-

Now let us see whether we find it in ourselves or not. Let us talk
somewhat about it. For, as you wrote me, you have a desire to feel
contrition for your sins, and not being able to feel it, you give up for
this reason Holy Communion. Now we shall see whether you ought to give it
up for this.

You know that God is supremely good, and loved us before we were: and is
Eternal Wisdom, and His Power in virtue is immeasurable: so for this
reason we are sure that He has power, knowledge, and will to give us what
we need. Well we see, in proof, that He gives us more than we know how to
ask, and that which was not asked by us. Did we ever ask Him that He
should create us reasonable creatures, in His own image and likeness,
rather than brute beasts? No. Or that He should create us by Grace by the
Blood of the Word, His only-begotten Son, or that He should give us
Himself for food, perfect God and perfect Man, flesh and blood, body and
soul, united to Deity? Beyond these most high gifts, which are so great,
and show such fire of love toward us, that there is no heart so hard that
its hardness and coldness would not melt by considering them at all:
infinite are the gifts and graces which we receive from Him without

Then, since He gives so much without our asking--how much the more will He
fulfil our desires when we shall desire a just thing of Him? Nay, who
makes us desire and ask it? Only He. Then, if He makes us ask it, it is a
sign that He means to fulfil it, and give us what we seek.

But you will say to me: "I confess that He is what thou sayest. But how
comes it that many a time I ask, both contrition and other things, and
they seem not to be given me?" I answer you: It may be it is through a
defect in him who asks, asking imprudently, with words alone and not with
his whole heart--and of such as these Our Saviour said that they call Him
Lord, Lord, but shall not be known of Him--not that He does not know them,
but for their fault they shall not be known of His mercy. Or, the man who
prays asks for something which, if he had it, would be injurious to his
salvation. So that, when he does not have what he asks, he really has it,
because he asks for it thinking that it would be for his good; but if he
had it, it would be to his harm, and it is for his good not to have it; so
God has satisfied the intention with which he asked it. So that on God's
side we always have our prayer; but this is the case, that God knows the
secret and the open, and is aware of our imperfection; so He sees that if
He gave us the grace at once as we ask it, we should do like an unclean
creature, who, rising from the sweetest honey, does not mind afterwards
lighting on a fetid object. God sees that we do so many a time. For,
receiving His graces and benefits, sharing the sweetness of His charity,
we do not mind afterward alighting on miserable things, turning back to
the filth of the world. Therefore, God sometimes does not give us what we
ask as soon as we should like, to make us increase in the hunger of our
desire, because He rejoices and pleases Himself in seeing the hunger of
His creatures toward Him.

Sometimes He will do us the grace by giving it to us in effect though not
in feeling. He uses this means with foresight, because He knows that if a
man felt himself to possess it, either he would slacken the pull of
desire, or would fall into presumption; therefore He withdraws the
feeling, but not the grace. There are others who both receive and feel,
according as it pleases the sweet goodness of our Physician to give to us
sick folk; and He gives to everyone in the way that our sickness needs.
You see, then, that in any case the yearning of the creature, with which
it asks of God, is always fulfilled. Now we see what we ought to seek, and
how prudently.

It seems to me that the Sweet Primal Truth teaches us what we ought to
seek when in the holy Gospel, reproving man for the intemperate zeal which
he bestows on gaining and holding the honours and riches of the world, He
said: "Take no thought for the morrow. Its own care suffices for the day."
Here He shows us that we should consider prudently the shortness of time.
Then He adds: "Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven; for your heavenly Father
knows well that you have need of these lesser things." What is this
kingdom, and how is it sought? It is the kingdom of eternal life, and the
kingdom of our own soul, for this kingdom of the soul, unless it is
possessed through reason, never becomes part of the kingdom of God. With
what is it sought? Not only with words--we have already said that such as
these are not recognized by God--but with the yearning of true and real
virtues. Virtue is what seeks and possesses this kingdom of heaven;
virtue, which makes a man prudent, so that he works for the honour of God
and the salvation of himself and his neighbour, with prudence and
maturity. Prudently he endures his neighbour's faults; prudently he rules
the impulse of charity, loving God above everything, and his neighbour as
himself. This is the rule: that he hold him ready to give bodily life for
the salvation of souls, and temporal goods to help the body of his
neighbour. Such a rule is set by prudent charity. Were he imprudent, it
would be just the opposite as with many who use a foolish and crazy sort
of charity, who many a time, to help their neighbour--I speak not of his
soul, but of his body--are ready to betray their own souls, by publishing
abroad lies, giving false witness. Such men as these lose charity, because
it is not built upon prudence.

We have seen that we must seek the kingdom of Heaven prudently: now I
answer you about the attitude we should hold toward the Holy Communion,
and how it befits us to take it. We should not use a foolish humility, as
do secular men of the world. I say, it befits us to receive that sweet
Sacrament, because it is the food of souls without which we cannot live in
grace. Therefore no bond is so great that it cannot and must not be
broken, that we may come to this sweet Sacrament. A man must do on his
part as much as he can, and that is enough. How ought we to receive it?
With the light of most holy faith, and with the mouth of holy desire. In
the light of faith you shall contemplate all God and all Man in that Host.
Then the impulse that follows the intellectual perception, receives with
tender love and holy meditation on its sins and faults, whence it arrives
at contrition, and considers the generosity of the immeasurable love of
God, who in so great love has given Himself for our food. Because one does
not seem to have that perfect contrition and disposition which he himself
would wish, he must not therefore turn away; for goodwill alone is
sufficient, and the disposition which on his part exists.

Again I say, that it befits us to receive as was imaged in the Old
Testament, when it was commanded that the Lamb should be eaten roasted and
not seethed; whole and not in part; girded and standing, staff in hand;
and the blood of the Lamb should be placed on the stone of the threshold.
Thus it befits us to receive this Sacrament: to eat it roasted, and not
seethed; for were it seethed there would be interposed earth and water--
that is, earthly affections and the water of self-love. Therefore it must
be roasted, so that there shall be nothing between. We take it so when we
receive it straight from the fire of divine charity. And we ought to be
girt with the girdle of conscience, for it would be very shocking that one
should advance to so great cleanliness and purity with mind or body
unclean. We ought to stand upright, that is, our heart and mind should be
wholly faithful and turned toward God; with the staff of the most holy
Cross, where we find the teaching of Christ crucified. This is the staff
on which we lean, which defends us from our foes, the world, the devil,
and the flesh. And it befits us eat it whole and not in part: that is, in
the light of faith, we should contemplate not only the Humanity in this
sacrament, but the body and soul of Christ crucified, wrought into unity
with Deity, all God and all Man. We must take the Blood of this Lamb and
put it upon our forehead--that is, confess it to every rational being,
and never deny it, for pain or for death. Thus sweetly it befits us to
receive this Lamb, prepared in the fire of charity upon the wood of the
Cross. Thus we shall be found signed with the seal of Tau, and shall never
be struck by the avenging angel.

I said that it did not befit us, nor do I wish you, to do as many
imprudent laymen, who pass over what is commanded them by Holy Church,
saying: "I am not worthy of it." Thus they spend a long time in mortal sin
without the food of their souls. Oh, foolish humility! Who does not see
that thou art not worthy? At what time dost thou await worthiness? Do not
await it; for thou wilt be just as worthy at the end as at the beginning.
For with all our just deeds, we shall never be worthy of it. But God is He
who is worthy, and makes us worthy with His worth. His worth grows never
less. What ought we to do? Make us ready on our part, and observe His
sweet commandment. For did we not do so, giving up communion, in such wise
believing to flee from fault, we should fall into fault.

Therefore I conclude, and will that such folly be not in you; but that you
make you ready, as a faithful Christian, to receive this Holy Communion as
I said. You will do it just as perfectly as you are in true knowledge of
yourself; not otherwise. For if you abide in that knowledge, you will see
everything clearly. Do not slacken your holy desire, for pain or loss, or
injury or ingratitude of those whom you have served; but manfully, with
true and long perseverance you shall persevere till death. Thus I beg you
to do by the love of Christ crucified. I say no more. Remain in the holy
and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.


Catherine lays down admirable political principles, for the fourteenth or
for the twentieth century. Yet times have changed, and we can hardly
imagine a modern city council giving serious welcome to such a letter as
this. It is a fair specimen of the letters which she was in the habit of
sending to the governments of the Italian towns--direct, simple, high-
minded presentations of the fundamental virtues on which the true
prosperity of a State must rest. She was capable, as she showed during the
Schism, of detailed political sagacity: but she never lost the womanly
conviction that moral generalizations would convict men of sin and point
them to the path of holiness. Nor was she wholly wrong. Her letters seem
to have been received with respect, and not to have failed in
effectiveness. On the present occasion, the authorities of Bologna have
evidently sent asking her prayers. These she promises gladly, but adds
that the Bolognese must not expect "the servants of God" to do all their
work for them.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest brothers in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of
the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with
desire to see you divested of the old man and clothed with the new--
divested, that is, of the world and the fleshly self-love which is the old
sin of Adam, and clothed with the new Christ sweet Jesus, and His tender
charity. When this charity is in the soul, it seeks not its own, but is
liberal and generous to render His due to God: to love Him above
everything else, and to hate its own lower nature; and to love itself for
God, rendering praise and glory to His Name: to render its neighbour
benevolence, with fraternal charity and well-ordered love. For charity
ought to be regulated: that is, a man must not wrong himself by sinning,
in order to rescue one soul--nay more, in order, were it possible, to save
the whole world; since it is not lawful to commit the least fault to
achieve a great virtue. And our body should not be sacrificed to rescue
the body of our neighbour; but we ought surely to sacrifice our bodily
life for the salvation of souls, and temporal possessions for the welfare
and life of our neighbour. So you see that this charity should be and is
regulated in the soul.

But those who are deprived of charity and full of self-love do just the
opposite; and as they are extravagant in their affections, so they are in
all their works. Thus we see that men of the world serve and love their
neighbour without virtue, and in sin; and to serve and please them, they
do not mind disserving and displeasing God, and injuring their own souls.
This is that perverted love which often kills soul and body--robs us of
light and casts us into darkness, robs us of life and condemns us to
death, deprives us of the conversation of the Blessed and leads us to that
of Hell. And if a man does not correct himself while he has time, he
destroys the shining pearls of holy justice, and loses the warmth of true
charity and obedience.

Now on whatever side we turn, we see every kind of rational creature
lacking in all virtue, and arrayed in this evil fleshly self-love. If we
turn to the prelates, they devote themselves so much to their own affairs
and live so luxuriously, that they do not seem to care when they see their
subjects in the hands of demons. As to the subjects, it is just the same,
they do not care to obey either the civil law or the divine, nor do they
care to serve one another unless for their own profit. And yet this kind
of love, and the union of those who are united by natural love and not by
true charity, does not suffice; such friendship suffices and lasts only so
long as pleasure and enjoyment lasts, and the personal profit derived from

So, when a man is lord, he fails in holy justice. And this is the reason:
that he fears to lose his dignity, and, so as not to excite annoyance, he
goes about cloaking and hiding men's faults, spreading ointment over a
wound at the time when it ought to be cauterized. Oh, miserable my soul!
When the man ought to apply the flame of divine charity, and burn out the
fault with holy punishment and correction inflicted by holy justice, he
flatters and pretends that he does not see. He behaves thus toward those
who he sees might impair his dignity; but as to the poor, who count for
little and whom he does not fear, he shows very great zeal for justice,
and without any mercy or pity imposes most severe punishment for a little
fault. What causes such injustice? Self-love. But the wretched men of the
world, because they are deprived of truth, do not recognize truth, either
as regards their salvation or as regards the true preservation of their
lordship. For did they know the truth, they would see that only living in
the fear of God preserves their state and the city in peace: they would
preserve holy justice, rendering his due to every subject, they would show
mercy on whoso deserved mercy, not by passionate impulse, but by regard
for truth; and justice they would show on whoso deserved it, built upon
mercy, and not on passionate wrath. Nor would they judge by hearsay, but
by holy and true justice; and they would heed the common good, and not any
private good, and would appoint officials and those who are to rule the
city, not by party or prejudice, not for flatteries or bribery, but with
virtue and reason alone; and they would choose men mature and excellent,
and not mere children--such as fear God and love the Commonwealth and not
their own particular advantage. Now in this way, their state and the city
is preserved in peace and unity. But unjust deeds, and living in cliques,
and the appointment to rule and government of men who do not know how to
rule themselves or their families--unjust and violent, passionate lovers
of themselves--these are the methods that make them lose both the state of
spiritual grace and their temporal state. To such as these it may be said:
"In vain thou dost labour to guard thy city if God guard it not: if thou
fear not God, and hold Him not before thee in thy works."

So you see, dearest brothers and lords, that self-love ruins the city of
the soul, and ruins and overturns the cities of earth. I will that you
know that nothing has so divided the world into every kind of people as
self-love, from which injustice is for ever born.

Apparently, dearest brothers, you have a desire to increase and preserve
the welfare of your city; and this desire moved you to write to me, poor
wretch that I am, full of faults. I heard and saw that letter with tender
love, and with wish to satisfy your desires, and to exert me, with what
grace God shall give me, to offer you and your city before God with
continual prayer. If you shall be just men, and carry on your government
as I said above, not in passion nor for self-love or your private good,
but for the universal good founded on the Rock Christ sweet Jesus, and if
you do all your works in His fear, then by means of prayer you shall
preserve the state, the peace and unity of your city. Therefore I beg you
by the love of Christ crucified--for there is no other way--that since you
have the help of the prayers of the servants of God, you should not fail
on your side in what is needful. For did you fail you might to be sure be
helped a little by the prayers, but not so much that it would not soon
come to nothing; because you ought to help, on your part, to bear this

So, considering that if you were clothed in fleshly and personal love, you
could not help the servants of God, and that he who does not help himself
with virtue and holy zeal for justice, cannot help his brothers' city, I
say that it is needful for you to be clothed with the New Man, Christ
sweet Jesus, and His immeasurable charity. But we cannot be clothed
therein unless first we divest us--nor could I divest me unless I see how
harmful it is to me to hold my old sin, and how useful the new garment of
divine charity. For when man has seen his sin, he hates it, and strips it
off; and loves, and in love arrays him in the garment of virtue woven with
the love of the New Man. Now this is the Way. Therefore I said to you that
I desired to see you divested of the old man and clothed with the New Man,
Christ crucified; and in this way you shall win and keep the state of
grace and the state of your city, and you will never fail in the reverence
due to Holy Church, but with pleasing manner will render your due and keep
your state. I say no more. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God.

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