Catherine of Siena

(2402 words)
  • Jane Tylus (New York University)

Mystic and ascetic as well as tireless ambassador, epistolarist and advocate for a new Crusade, Caterina Benincasa, better known as Catherine of Siena, was a person of contradiction and notoriety in her lifetime. “One of the most marvelous figures in the history of the world”, as Ludwig Pastor, historian of the papacy, has called her, Catherine transgressed almost every boundary set for late medieval women. Her apparently unflagging energy could only be stopped by ecclesiastical problems even she could not resolve – as well as by her likely determination to die when Christ died, at the age of 33, a sacrifice to a deeply divided church and continent in the wake of the Great Schism for which some blamed Catherine herself.

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Tylus, Jane. "Catherine of Siena". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 February 2010
[, accessed 03 July 2015.]

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  1. Italian Women's Writing