For some "light" summer reading, my parish Summer Book Club read the highly regarded and reviewed biography titled, "St. Catherine of Siena," by Sigrid Undset. Sigrid Undset was an expert on the Middle Ages as well as a Third Order Dominican. The author is considered one of the "greatest novelists of the twentieth century." She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928 for her epic work, "Kristin Lavransdatter."
So during the month of June, a group of us, read, studied and discussed St. Catherine of Siena as portrayed by Undset. I had studied St. Catherine before but that was many years ago and I wanted to revisit the fascinating life and writings of this extraordinary saint and Doctor of the Church.
Catherine as you may know was instrumental in convincing the French Pope- Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon, France where he was living. She implored him through letters and eventually visited him to convince him the papacy belonged in Rome. It seems he feared he would go to hell (she was very convincing!) if he didn't listen to this bold Dominican, who was revered in her own day for her saintliness and inspired judgment.
The book was excellent but this was one of my favorite paragraphs in the book,
"On September 13, a day or two after Catherine had started on her journey to Italy, Gregory left Avignon--forever. He had taken Catherine's advice and left suddenly, taking all the Cardinals, except six. The French Cardinals in his retinue wept and his relations who remained behind wailed and lamented. The Pope's old father, knelt at the city gates, in despair at the departure of his son. Pope Gregory passed him without a word......." (page 212).
Pope Gregory must of believed that it was much better to head back to Rome and try to heal that city and the Church, then to spend eternity in Hell as Catherine had hinted to.
Catherine was an amazing woman saint, for any age, and I highly suggest this book.