The Letters of Catherine of Siena - Vol. 2

The Letters of Catherine of Siena - Vol. 2

The Letters of Catherine of Siena - Vol. 2

The Letters of Catherine of Siena - Vol. 2


The second volume in the first complete translation of the Epistolario of St. Catherine of Siena (1343-1380) makes available to a large body of readers a major historical and religious document of the Middle Ages. (Also featuring an Introduction and Notes by the translator).


A number of events and letters must be related in order to date this letter.

On 11 February 1377 Pope Gregory XI issued a personal ultimatum to all who had held office in Florence since the previous June; they were to appear before him in Avignon before the end of March. In the communication he enumerated their offenses in such terms that the Florentines called it "too atrocious to be addressed even to schismatics and infidels." This would have been a logical time for the Florentines to look for a mediator. So this may well have been the time Raimondo refers to when he says that they asked him first to go to Avignon "in Catherine's name" to sue for peace, calling for Catherine herself only later. Catherine later sent a letter commending Raimondo to Gregory XI (T206/DT63, in this volume), in which she mentioned "what has happened in Bologna," a reference almost certainly to the revolt of Bologna against the papacy on the night of 20 March 1376. Catherine probably was not thinking as she wrote the letter that Raimondo was as yet actually in Avignon. Still, that letter of recommendation must have been written before 31 March, when Gregory XI actually imposed an interdict on Florence. And by very shortly after 1 April, when she wrote Let. T219/DT65 to Raimondo, Catherine was

MSS: Mo-c, P4; translation based on Mo-c, with variants from P4 based on an unpub
lished transcription by A. Volpato.

Fawtier (II, pp. 197–198), following Burlamacchi, dates this letter in 1378, taking the
elevation of "the archbishop" to refer to the conclave of 8 April 1378, in which Urban VI
was elected. The results of this 1378 conclave were known in Florence by the next
Wednesday, 14 April, Wednesday of Holy Week, when the gospel from Luke was read that
could have furnished the Passover theme for the letter.

Gardner (Saint Catherine of Siena, p. 168) puts the letter in 1376, but after Raimondo's,
arrival in Avignon. This poses a problem regarding the women disciples mentioned at the
end of the letter, since no women went with Raimondo, Giovanni Tantucci, and Felice da
Massa when they set out for Avignon.

Dupré Theseider in his unpublished notes speculates about 1376, but in the end dates
the letter to spring of 1378 for several reasons: (1) He thinks it unlikely that Neri would
have been sent to Avignon; (2) T226 could hardly be before T219 because of its Easter
references; (3) There is no mention of the pope's return to Rome in T226, whereas it is
mentioned several times in T219; (4) Catherine would not have expected any special peace
to come from the appointment of Iacopo da Itri. However, placing the letter in 1378 needs
to assume an unrecorded trip by Raimondo to Pisa from Rome (where he had been since
about mid-September 1377 as prior of Santa Maria sopra Minerva), and also that Catherine
somehow and somewhere had a chance to see him along the way.

Gardner, Saint Catherine of Siena, p. 157 (no source cited).

Life, III, vi, 420, pp. 380–381.

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