Website goal

Fresco by Andrea Vanni in the church of San Domenico, Siena

Vanni, a politician and painter, knew Catherine so this fresco is as close to a portrait of Catherine as we have; it is representational, painted in a Gothic style with influences of Byzantine art.
See letter excerpts to Andrea Vanni

 

This website replaces my plan to write a book that would unlock to spiritual seekers and spiritual guides the depth of wisdom offered by Catherine of Siena. I share here what I have learned as a scholar about this remarkable woman.

I write this from the perspective of faith, as a believer convinced that Catherine’s wisdom can help the spiritual seeker today. Accordingly, the goal of this website is pastoral, though I believe students of Catherine’s works will also be interested in its content. [1]

Catherine’s writings are not easy to read because of their style. The most important wisdom Catherine has to offer must be unravelled from her many images and metaphors which are not straightforward, especially when read eight centuries later. Her wisdom is not organized by topics. Significant topics are intertwined, and the same topics are repeated in many places but in these repetitions one finds nuances important to her teaching.

Appreciation of Catherine’s wisdom also requires some understanding of her culture and the history of her day. There are accepted legends about Catherine’s role in history that must be clarified. Her greatness as a holy person lies not so much in particular mystical graces or alleged political accomplishments but rather in her heroic commitment to a transformative relationship with God and to accomplishing God’s will as she understood it.

I have studied Catherine of Siena’s spirituality since I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on a comparison of discernment according to Catherine and Ignatius of Loyola and have continued to do research and to write about her.

Based on this expert knowledge you will find here

  • Historical, cultural and literary keys to interpreting and understanding Catherine’s
    writings.
  • Several short chapters on her spirituality and how it is relevant for today.
  • Translations of passages from her letters.

[1] Scholars wishing documentation for material in this website are welcome to write to catherineofsiena.spirituality@gmail.com. Most material not documented here is cited in my articles. See about website author.