From Publishers Weekly
Many have revered Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) as a paragon of mystical feminine piety, an ethereal saint whose timeless spiritual sensitivities have inspired Christians for more than 600 years. Scholars as well as devotees have tended to remove Catherine from her immediate medieval context as an influential Sienese noblewoman. Tulane history professor Luongo brings the medieval saint firmly back to earth in this published dissertation, which examines Catherine's letters through a sociopolitical lens. She was, he asserts, actively involved in the issues of the day in a particularly turbulent time in Italian history, marked by the Black Death, social revolutions and papal instability. Luongo teases out possible political entendres in Catherine's correspondence by juxtaposing her words and known movements against contemporary political and social events. The result is a specialized scholarly revisionism that, while not easily accessed by the general reader, will be appreciated by its intended academic audience. (Jan.)
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From the Inside Flap
"This is a brilliant and important book. It undertakes, in a highly convincing fashion, a radical reinterpretation of the career of one of the most important figures in medieval religious history. F. Thomas Luongos rereading of Catherines letters in the context of local and papal politics is highly compelling and he deftly explains whythrough the hagiographical writings of her biographers and through modern interpretive agendasCatherine has been consistently extracted from this political context. There is no comparable book: the research here is groundbreaking."Maureen Miller, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Bishops Palace