Amidst an age of great sorrow there emerged a mystic and reformerAgainst the backdrop of 14th-century Europe—a time of social turmoil, outbreaks of the bubonic plague, a catastrophic war that devastated the continent, and an overall transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance—this intelligent and comprehensive biography of an oftentimes irreverent, intense, and fiery woman offers an entry point into the life of Catherine of Siena. Deeply researched and based on the latest sources, this history recalls Saint Catherine—as she would later be called—as a champion of peace who cajoled and, at times, begged popes, monarchs, and ordinary citizens to do her will. Describing her sheer fortitude and personal magnetism, this accessible and absorbing account details the spiritual and political beliefs of Catherine of Siena as she attempted to restore order to a fractured Italian city-state system, campaigned Pope Gregory XI in Avignon to return the papacy to Rome, and tried to resolve the Western Schism of 1378—a challenge that proved to be her ultimate test. Perfect for historians and readers of any faith or none, this compelling exploration paints a human portrait of a great mystic and spiritual teacher, who was canonized in 1461 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
Reviews"Both gripping and enlightening. Carefully researched and passionately told." —Library Journal
"Brophy manages to round out Catherine's life in a way no other biography has, preserving her spiritual magnificence even while placing her within the contexts of her fully lived earthly existence." —Publishers Weekly
"Respectful rather than awestruck, Brophy’s balanced account of an extraordinary woman will appeal to both devotees and scholars." —Booklist
"A beautifully written account of the life and times of Catherine of Siena. It imaginatively captures the singularity of this great woman saint . . . An amazing tale, vividly described and fascinating to read." —Ursula King, author, Christian Mystics
"Written in language as evocative as Catherine's, Don Brophy's new book is a compelling and detailed study of one of medieval Europe's most fascinating women and the religious, social, and political dynamics of her day." —Jane Tylus, author, Reclaiming Catherine of Siena
"A masterpiece of content and context—a rare combination that makes a woman of the past a model for our own times. More than that, it’s great writing! Enjoy!" —Joan Chittister, OSB, author, The Gift of Years
"Don Brophy has mined her letters, numerous records, and Catherine's mystical masterpiece, the Dialogue, to give today's reader a balanced and readable account of this extraordinary woman." —Bernard McGinn, author, The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart
"Brophy reveals a thoroughly human Catherine, fully a woman of her own day . . . Told in vivid, felicitous language, Brophy’s biography reacquaints the reader with an extraordinary Christian." —America magazine
Author BiographyDon Brophy was for many years acquiring editor and managing editor for the book publisher Paulist Press. He is the author of One Hundred Great Catholic Books and The Story of Catholics in America. He lives in New York City.