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Catherine of Siena’s Humanism: A Tale of Two Cities

Catherine Joseph Droste


In considering the Dominican contribution to “freedom, virtue, and the good society,” Catherine of Siena may not be the first figure who comes to mind. But Catherine was a saint, a doctor of the Church, a mystic, a reformer, and was sent into public ministry by the Lord himself. A group of followers, both men and women, soon gathered around her, and after she arbitrated peace between warring noble Sienese families, her reputation spread beyond her hometown. By the age of twenty-five she was acting as an ambassador between Tuscan cities and the papacy, and she actively urged Pope Gregory XI, both during a visit to Avignon and in personal letters, to call a crusade; to return the papacy to Rome; and to begin a general reform of the Church.

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