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The Dialogue Of The Seraphic Virgin Saint Catherine Of Siena (T.O.S.D) – Doctor Of The Church

The Dialogue Of The Seraphic Virgin Saint Catherine Of Siena (T.O.S.D) – Doctor Of The Church

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The Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena. Dictated by her, while in a state of ecstasy, to her secretaries, and completed in the year of our LORD 1370, together with an account of her death by an eye-witness.
Catherine of Siena (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), a lay member of the Dominican Order, was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and on the Catholic Church. Canonized in 1461, she is also a Doctor of the Church.
Born and raised in Siena, she wanted from an early age to devote herself to God, against the will of her parents. She joined the “mantellate”, a group of pious women, primarily widows, informally devoted to Dominican spirituality. Her influence with Pope Gregory XI played a role in his 1376 decision to leave Avignon for Rome. The Pope then sent Catherine to negotiate peace with Florence. After Gregory XI’s death (March 1378) and the conclusion of peace (July 1378), she returned to Siena. She dictated to secretaries her set of spiritual treatises The Dialogue of Divine Providence. The Great Schism of the West led Catherine of Siena to go to Rome with the pope. She sent numerous letters to princes and cardinals to promote obedience to Pope Urban VI and to defend what she calls the “vessel of the Church”. She died on 29 April 1380, exhausted by her rigorous fasting. Urban VI celebrated her funeral and burial in the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.
Devotion around Catherine of Siena developed rapidly after her death. Pope Pius II canonized her in 1461; she was declared a patron saint of Rome in 1866 by Pope Pius IX, and of Italy (together with Francis of Assisi) in 1939 by Pope Pius XII. She was the second woman to be declared a “doctor of the Church,” on 4 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI – only days after Teresa of Ávila. In 1999 Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a [co-]patron saint of Europe.
Catherine of Siena is one of the outstanding figures of medieval Catholicism, by the strong influence she has had in the history of the papacy and her extensive authorship. She was behind the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome, and then carried out many missions entrusted to her by the pope, something quite rare for a woman in the Middle Ages. Her Dialogue, hundreds of letters, and dozens of prayers, also give her a prominent place in the history of Italian literature.
Three genres of work by Catherine survive:
Her major treatise is The Dialogue of Divine Providence. This had probably begun in October 1377 and was certainly finished by November 1378. Contemporaries of Catherine are united in asserting that much of the book was dictated while Catherine was in ecstasy, though it also seems possible that Catherine herself may then have re-edited many passages in the book.[36] It is a dialogue between a soul who “rises up” to God and God himself.
Catherine’s letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature. Many of these were dictated, although she herself learned to write in 1377; 382 have survived. In her letters to the Pope, she often addressed him affectionately simply as Babbo (“Daddy”), instead of the formal form of address “Your Holiness”. Other correspondents include her various confessors, among them Raymond of Capua, the kings of France and Hungary, the infamous mercenary John Hawkwood, the Queen of Naples, members of the Visconti family of Milan, and numerous religious figures. Approximately one third of her letters are to women.
Twenty-six prayers of Catherine of Siena also survive, mostly composed in the last eighteen months of her life.
The University of Alcalá conserves a unique handwritten Spanish manuscript, while other available texts are printed copies collected by the National Library of France.
Catherine’s theology can be described as mystical, and was employed towards practical ends for her own spiritual life or those of others.[40] She used the language of medieval scholastic philosophy to elaborate her experiential mysticism. Interested mainly with achieving an incorporeal union with God, Catherine practiced extreme fasting and asceticism, eventually to the extent of living solely off the Eucharist every day. For Catherine, this practice was the means to fully realize her love of Christ in her mystical experience, with a large proportion of her ecstatic visions relating to the consumption or rejection of food during her life. She viewed Christ as a “bridge” between the soul and God and transmitted that idea, along with her other teachings, in her book The Dialogue. The Dialogue is highly systematic and explanatory in its presentation of her mystical ideas; however, these ideas themselves are not so much based on reason or logic as they are based in her ecstatic mystical experience.
She recorded this revelation from her conversation with Christ, in which he said: “Do you know what you are to Me, and what I am to you, my daughter? I AM HE WHO IS, you are she who is not”.

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