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The Life of Catherine of Sienna: By Her Confessor the Blessed Raymond of Capua
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Life of St. Catherine of Sienna > Catherine's public life

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message 1: by Manuel (last edited Jul 01, 2018 01:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
Comment about Catherine's public life as a diplomatist, her attempts to move the Pope back from Avignon to Rome, her attempt to launch a crusade...


message 2: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 268 comments It strikes me that St. Catherine has much in common with St. Joan of Arc--both simple women from pious families, not the likeliest people--especially being women and very young--to be called by God to speak truth to power and to lead very powerful men onto a different course than the one they have chosen. I see in these two what we see in God's choices of Old Testament leaders--evidence that God has amazing plans for all of us, no matter how insignificant we think we are, and that if we are open to His will and to His plan, we may influence others in ways we never expected and may never be aware of until all is revealed in the next world.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
Madeleine wrote: "It strikes me that St. Catherine has much in common with St. Joan of Arc--both simple women from pious families, not the likeliest people--especially being women and very young--to be called by God..."

In fact, chapter 1 in the second part attributes almost exactly those words to Christ:

But since my mercy transcends all else I do, I shall first give them a salutary lesson, to see whether they will come to their senses and humble themselves; as I did with the Jews and the Gentiles, when I sent amongst them idiots whom I had filled with divine wisdom. To confound their arrogance, I will raise up women ignorant and frail by nature but endowed with strength and divine wisdom.


message 4: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 268 comments I haven't read that far yet, but wow! Did Jesus really say he was sending idiots??? (Or "holy fools"?)


Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
Madeleine wrote: "I haven't read that far yet, but wow! Did Jesus really say he was sending idiots??? (Or "holy fools"?)"

You must not take everything Raymond says literally. When he quotes Christ, he is repeating what he remembers about what Catherine told him years before. In fact, he says the same in this quote from the same chapter:

I have already, you may remember, said that I would write nothing down that was untrue, imaginary or exaggerated, but would restrict myself to what I had actually heard from the virgin herself or from others. Many and many a time she argued with me about different things, but I cannot remember what precisely she said... Many things, too, have gone out of my mind as a result of the affairs I have been engaged in since I last saw her, never to see her again. Perhaps there is also, as I myself believe, the matter of growing old; and in this case the first thing to go, I agree with Seneca, is one’s memory.

Although immediately he says that sometimes he is surprised by how well he remembers:

When memories come back into my mind, I use the words which seem to me to be most likely to have been said by her; but to the honour of Almighty God and his bride Catherine, I am bound to confess that, thanks to her, many, many things come back before my eyes which I had previously never even thought about. In fact she seems at times to be with me, telling me what to write.


message 6: by Manuel (last edited Jul 03, 2018 11:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
Madeleine wrote: "I haven't read that far yet, but wow! Did Jesus really say he was sending idiots??? (Or "holy fools"?)"

Also you must take into account that this is not Raymond's original writing you are reading. In fact the quotes I have given are from an English translation of the book. If I use the Spanish translation, and turn it into English, what comes out is this:

But since mercy is always on the side of justice, I want first to give them a healthy warning so that they will recognize and humble themselves, as the Jews and Gentiles did when I sent them ignorant people, whom I had previously filled with my divine wisdom. Yes; I will send them women, ignorant and weak by nature but prudent and powerful with the help of my grace, to confuse their arrogance.

So you see, the word "idiots" appears only in this English translation. In my Spanish translation, the word used was "ignorant." But as this word was used again in the next line, the translator probably thought it best to replace it by another similar word to prevent repetition, and he used "idiots." The Spanish translator did not bother about the repetition and left "ignorant" there.


message 7: by Manuel (last edited Jul 04, 2018 04:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
This book was originally written in Latin with the title "Legenda maior sive legenda admirabilis Virginis Catherine de Senis" by Raimondo da Capua, but I have not been able to find the original version in the Internet.

I have found, however, an Italian translation published in 1489, less than a century after the original publication, and in this edition it says the following: ...come io feci a li iudei e a li gentili quando aloro manday persone nel aspecto ydiote ma pieni de la sapientia divina. Translated into English this says: ...as I did to the Jews and the gentiles, when I sent them people with an idiot appearance, but full of divine wisdom. So the word "idiot" probably was in the original and was not introduced by the English translator.

Anyway, the word "idiot" comes from the latin "idiota," whose meaning was not the same as in the current English (or Spanish) word, but it just meant "ignorant." And the Romans got it from the Greek, where "idiotes" (ιδιωτης) meant "he who does not care about public matters." Words change a lot with time.

So probably the Spanish translator, using the word "ignorant" to translate "idiota," was nearer to the original meaning than the English translator, who kept the appearance of the word, but lost its meaning.


message 8: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine Myers | 268 comments Excellent explanation, Manuel. I figured it was a translation thing. But what an interesting etymology of the word "idiot"! And it's amazing how knowing the etymology of certain words does expand our understanding. Thank you!


Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
There is little on this book about Catherine's public life, except for her diplomatic activities to achieve peace between Florence and the Papacy, in the last part.

For instance, it says nothing about her pressure on Pope Gregory XI so that he would move from Avignon to Rome, or about her attempt to promote a new crusade.


Fonch | 1445 comments Well i have started the reading. I preffer other kind of Saint lives, because in my opinion the life of Saint Catherine, at least he told Raymon o Capua can not be reached by the common of the mortal people. Iam in favor of the virginity, but i do not like that Saint Catherine cut her braids. I think that the sainthood is accepting the limits. She did not like her braids she might change to haircut. If a person did not feed securely will have a hypoglycemic coma. In the case of sleeping only half hour she will remind to me Macnamara with sleeing is for weak people sir. Madelaine comented that Saint atherine inspired to Saint Joan o Arc, indeed Saint Catherine was one of the saints who appeared in her views, however i preffer novels as Saint Joan an army of angel by Pamela Marcantel, or the novel o Susan Peek of Saint Camil Lelis than the biographies was written by Raymond of Capua. For me the best thing of Saint Catherine was to force the Pope and christendom to finish with the schism.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1631 comments Mod
Fonch wrote: "For me the best thing of Saint Catherine was to force the Pope and christendom to finish with the schism."

But she didn't although she tried! The schism did not finish until 37 years after her death.


Fonch | 1445 comments Manuel wrote: "Fonch wrote: "For me the best thing of Saint Catherine was to force the Pope and christendom to finish with the schism."

But she didn't although she tried! The schism did not finish until 37 year..."

However her point of view was the right in the spanish case Saint Vincent Ferrer supported the antipope Benedict XIII, although he regret changed his decision. There is a novel about Saint Catherine of Siena was written by Louis de Wohl
Lay Siege to Heaven https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9...


Fonch | 1445 comments Manuel wrote: "Fonch wrote: "For me the best thing of Saint Catherine was to force the Pope and christendom to finish with the schism."

But she didn't although she tried! The schism did not finish until 37 year..."


I want to correct my opinion. I commited a mistake Saint Catherine got that the pope come to Rome. I thought that the saint, who did it was Saint Brigid of Sweden, but it is possible that the two saints was involved in the miracle. I am very close to finish the second pat o the book. The part, who likes me more are the part, where the saint got the regret of the sins of the siners.


Fonch | 1445 comments It is really curious the imag, who has Raymond of Capua of the Pope Urban Vi. I have read a book The bad Popes
by E.R. Chamberlin https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... and he was considered by the author, as one of the worst popes of the Church in during competition with Alexander VI, Leo X, and Clement VII. I am very surprised that Raymond of Capua spoke rarher well of him. If somebody want to say something i will be enchanted :-).


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