ISBN 10: 1492871001 / ISBN 13: 9781492871002
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?Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.? ? St. Catherine of Siena A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history?s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors? Catholic Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of the Church?s most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
As one of the two patron saints of Italy and one of six patron saints of Europe, it?s immediately apparent that Catherine of Siena was one of Catholicism?s most important figures, and possibly its most influential woman. Famous today for adhering to the tenets of the Dominican order and living a material-free life, Catherine worked in her day to help reunite the Catholic Church after a schism had brought some of the base of power to Avignon, France. At the same time, she also sought to bring together the disparate Italian states that were constantly at war with each other.
However, Catherine?s life after death has also been incredibly influential. Revived by the Risorgimento, repurposed into an instrument of Catholic nationalism by 19th century scholars, and eventually embraced by fascism as a symbol of Italian virtues and the embodiment of the idea of Romanita, Catherine of Siena?s reputation is both blurred and strikingly sharp, depending on the function she is given by those who remember her. Recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint in 1461, as well as a Doctor of the Church and one of the patron saints of Italy in 1970, Catherine of Siena?s life and actions have stimulated the imagination and piety of many since the early 15th century. More than 500 years after her death, her legacy was seized and even untowardly exploited during the early 20th century, leading to a pronounced tendency of scholarly demystification that attempted to strip her of credibility as part of the general process of the deconstruction of fascist symbols and emblems. Scholars trying to distance themselves from their past have questioned even the basic tenets of her hagiography and have attempted to turn her into a second hand figure in Italian history, isolating her from the historical and cultural context from which she stemmed. On the other hand, Catholic believers who relied on her intercession and regarded her as a model of conduct have emphasized her qualities and have sometimes attempted to make the staples of hagiographic writing more palatable to the modern reader.
Catherine?s extreme ascetic practices, her considerable involvement in the political turmoil of 14th century Italy, and her extensive epistolary exchanges are only a few reasons why she is a compelling figure, and one in need of objective analysis. Catherine?s life and legacy are crucial toward understanding female religiosity, mysticism and asceticism during the medieval period. At the same time, the historical sources regarding most medieval individuals can be sketchy, so the sources on her life must be closely analyzed, including her letters and the main hagiographic writings of Raymond of Capua and Tomaso Caffarini, two of her confessors. Although the historical biographies of saints cannot be completely recovered ?as they truly happened? there is still great value in studying such narratives, regardless of the reader?s confessional orientation.
Catholic Legends: The Life and Legacy of St. Catherine of Siena details the remarkable life of one of the Catholic Church?s most famous saints, while also covering the controversies over her legacy. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about St. Catherine of Siena like you never have before, in no time at all.

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Charles River Editors
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ISBN 10: 1492871001 ISBN 13: 9781492871002
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