Vernacular religious literature from fifteenth-century Germany is not known for being eloquent, creative, or interesting. When I proposed a dissertation topic that heavily involved the era’s didactic literature, one of the members of my committee responded, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
Yet fifteenth-century Germans produced more vernacular literature than any other time or place in the Middle Ages, and scholars estimate seventy to eighty percent of it was religious.  These books, however lacking in literary splendor, were wildly popular both to read and to write; they survive from clerical and lay libraries alike.
The context adds one more layer to the interesting (really!) German hagiography of Elisabeth Achler von Reute (1386-1420), written by her confessor Konrad Kügelin. Kügelin wins no prizes for his prosecraft, to be sure. He makes up for it with his ebulent enthusiasm for Achler’s sanctity and his obvious concern for her as a person. But most of all, he makes up for it through the often colorful stories he spins out of what was apparently a quiet and peaceful cloistered life.
Achler was a sister in a convent founded by Augustinian friar Kügelin and loosely affiliated with the Franciscan Order. As her Leben shows, she spent most of her adult life struggling to fit the mold of a late medieval holy woman. Above all, that mantle meant self starvation. Achler was either a star or a fraud—depending on whether you asked Kügelin or asked his portrayal of the convent’s other sisters.
Kügelin insists upon their suspicion (argwon) of Achler’s supposed miraculous inedia again and again through the Leben. He’s not reticent about the reason for the emphasis: it demonstrates Achler’s Christ-like forebearance in the face of persecution. Here, I’m going to look at two episodes depicting the sisters’ suspicion.
The first one is actually pretty cute, or at least, it would be cute if it weren’t so sad. One day, the sister assigned to the kitchen sets up to cook several pieces of meat. But when it’s time to eat, there are only two pieces left. When one sister wonders aloud where the meat went, the cook answers, “Oh, where all the other things must go—our cat with two legs must have taken it.” 
The “cat with two legs” story is short and almost sweet, even if Kügelin was attempting to portray the sisters’ suspicion instead of their support for Achler’s efforts at sanctity. A second anecdote could likewise be spun as suspicion or concern. Realizing that Achler hasn’t been eating, one sister goes off to the town of Reute to buy “little fishes” that hopefully she will like. Achler dutifully eats them—demonstrating her adherence to monastic obedience, of course. But she almost immediately throws them back up, not even slightly digested. 
In both cases, Kügelin’s presentation of events can be read as suspicious sisters setting a deliberate trap with simmering meat on the stove or specially-purchased fish, or as concerned sisters desperately trying to get Achler to eat something. Rather than unravel that mystery, I’m going to take a more basic approach: Kügelin’s presentation of events can be read in the first place.
Kügelin wrote numerous drafts of Achler’s Leben, which survive in multiple manuscripts. Their relationship was examined by Karl Bihlmeyer in 1932, who showed that the cat with two legs story and the little fishes episode are both new to one of the revisions. In the oldest version, the two anecdotes have only a faint presence. Regarding the first, Kügelin notes that some beans and lentils went missing from the kitchen. That’s the beginning and end of the “action” in a long paragraph emphasizing suspicion. No simmering meat, no cute comments. In the little fishes story, similarly, there are no trips to town and no little fishes. Achler eats something one day and promptly throws it up. 
Thus, Kügelin added or embellished stories from the likely first to the likely second drafts of Achler’s Leben.
As a modern reader, I appreciate this development. As a scholar who told her concerned committee member, “Yes, I’m sure,” I also appreciate that Kügelin went against contemporary trends when he increased the entertainment value of the hagiography. He did the equivalent of writing out his sermons with great exempla already woven in.
Unfortunately and unfairly, I have to leave you—and more to the point, me—without a snappy conclusion regarding why Kügelin believed these later additions would strengthen the case for Achler’s sainthood. But look on the bright side. Two different versions of Achler’s hagiography have been in print since 1881 and 1932. What better time to start comparing them than 2020?
Cait Stevenson PhD in History University of Notre Dame
 See, for example, Karl Ruh, “Geistliche Prosa,” in Europäisches Spätmittelalter, ed. Willi Ergräber, Neues Handbuch der Literaturwissenschaft 8 (Akademie Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1980), 565; Werner Williams-Krapp, “The Erosion of a Monopoly: German Religious LIterature in the Fifteenth Century,” in The Vernacular Spirit: Essays on Medieval Religious Litearture, ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Duncan Robertson, and Nancy Bradley Warren (Palgrave, 2002), 239.
 Anton Birlinger, ed., “Leben heiliger alemannischer Frauen I: Elisabeta Bona von Reute,” Zeitschrift für Sprache, Litteratur, und Volkskunde des Elsasses, Oberrheins und Schwabens 9 (1881): 280.
 Birlinger, 281.
 Karl Bihlmeyer, ed., “Die Schwäbishe Mystikerin Elsbeth Achler von Reute (d. 1420) und die Überlieferung dihrer Vita,” in Festgabe Philipp Strauch zum 80. Geburtstage am 23. September 1932, ed. Georg Baesecke and Ferdinand Joseph Schneider (Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1932), 101-102.
Even Elisabeth Achler’s hagiography admits she was faking it.
Franciscan tertiary Achler (1386-1420) fulfills all the stereotypical demands of late medieval women’s sanctity, although sometimes just barely. It is an extreme that gets her into trouble. During her three-year fast and her even more extreme twelve-year fast, she ate nothing but the Eucharist. Well, the Eucharist, and the food she stole from the kitchen and hid under her bed. 
The wobbly nature of Achler’s portrayed sanctity suggests her hagiographer is being somewhat honest, and in this case, honest to a conscious attempt to achieve living sainthood. Achler tried to live up to an ideal.
That is nothing unusual in any time or place, of course. But this case is particularly interesting as scholars question more and more the extent to which late medieval ascetic sanctity was historical versus rhetorical.
Nicholas von Flue was a wildly famous living saint whose cell became a pilgrimage site for peasants all the way up to scholars and bishops. Nicholas’ public reputation (and eventual hagiographic portrayal) represented him as a Desert Father come again. He was the most severe ascetic possible (not even eating the Eucharist!) and a hermit. His face was gaunt, his skin yellow or colorless, his hands ice cold; he lived in isolation to the point where he was known as the “Forest Brother.” 
And no matter how many people saw him in person, it didn’t matter that his hands were warm, he looked healthy, and his cell was on a corner of the property where his wife and children lived.
Whether Nicholas did or didn’t eat and whether he did or didn’t see his family are both beside the point. His sanctity was built on the rhetoric of imitating, or besting, the Desert Fathers.
But nothing better embodies the debate over historicity versus literary construction, or the ideal of women’s ascetic sanctity to which Achler aspired, than a group of books from Dominican women’s convents in fourteenth-century southern Germany. Here I want to focus on the first-person “autohagiography” of one nun, the so-called Revelations of Margaret Ebner. 
From external evidence, we know that Ebner was a historical person with a reputation for sanctity already in her own lifetime. There seemed no reason to doubt that the Revelations filled in the details from Ebner’s (necessarily biased and subjective) point of view.  The text recounts her spiritual life over the course of several decades: repetitive prayer, devotion to the Passion and the Christ-child, heavily somatic piety, sensations of sweetness, severe sickness. It is repetitive and simplistically written.
If you’re thinking this is the spirituality that was once accounted “hysterical,” you are absolutely correct. If you’re thinking this is the spirituality that scholars now recognize as distinctively feminine with very real social-theological significance, you are also correct.
But what if the Ebner of the Revelations is a hagiographic Nicholas von Flue? What if the literary portrayal of living sainthood is unconnected from the reality of a woman nevertheless renowned as holy?
So runs Susanna Bürkle’s argument for Revelations. Bürkle argues that a nun or nuns at Ebner’s convent constructed the I-narrator of the autohagiography as an exemplar of so-called women’s sanctity. 
Or, to speak in the idiom of the twenty-first century: the nuns curated a public version of Ebner that adhered to the demands of women’s sanctity.
It’s easy to draw parallels between blog posts with comments and manuscripts with glosses, between Tumblr and commonplace books. So how about late medieval women’s autohagiography and hagiography as Instagram and Facebook?
We’ve all seen the “I take 1000 selfies for every one I can post” Instagram admissions, and the smartphone videos where the gorgeous YouTube star turns this way and that to display how she can go from (ridiculously thin and good-looking) normal to supermodel quality with angles and makeup. These social media accounts have a rhetoric of their own. The “Feet in the foreground, beautiful scenery in the background” photo means ultimate relaxation. Twitter has its own grammar, often departing from “proper” English, that mashes up different vernaculars and changes from meme to meme.
And, as article after article reminds us, social media is brutal for self-esteem because we are convinced these accounts portray something of reality. No matter how much we are aware of constructing our own Facebook feeds and dividing up our Reddit alts, the ideal of others’ lives looks real. The occasional admission of failure or falseness is the modern humility topos, yes. It is also a guarantee of reality—a sign we can trust these people, who, after all, are honest about their dishonesty.
Whether or not an Instagram account is an accurate summary of the life behind it is irrelevant to us in these cases. All we can see, and all that the users mean to convey, is the ideal.
But as Elisabeth Achler’s desperate hoarding and bingeing reminds us, the construction of exemplarity in the Life of Catherine of Siena and the Vitae patrum, in Revelations and the Sister-books—on twenty-first century social media—has its costs.
Nicholas von Flue died at age 70. Margaret Ebner died at age 60.
Elisabeth Achler died at 34.
Cait Stevenson, PhD
University of Notre Dame
 The oldest recension of Achler’s hagiography, probably from an autograph by its author, was published by Karl Bihlmeyer, “Die schwäbische Mystikerin Elsbeth Achler von Reute († 1420) und die Überlieferung ihrer Vita,” in Festgabe Philipp Strauch zum 80. Geburtstag, ed. Ferdinand Joseph Schneider and George Basecke (Halle: Niemeyer, 1932), 88-109.
 Gabriela Signori examines the role of appearance in Nicholas von Flue’s hagiographies and reputation: “Nikolaus of Flüe (d. 1487): Physiognomies of a Late Medieval Ascetic,” Church History and Religious Culture 86, no. 1-4 (2006): 229-255.
 The standard edition is Philipp Strauch, Margaretha Ebner und Heinrich von Nördlingen: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Mystik (Amsterdam: P. Schippers, 1966). Ebner’s text is the best-known among the Sister-books and related Dominican women’s texts because of its accessible English translation: Margaret Ebner: Major Works, trans. Leonard Patrick Hindsley, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1993).
 On the question of whether medieval visionary texts reveal something of the visionaries’ actual experiences: Peter Dinzelbacher, “Zur Interpretation erlebnismystischer Texte des Mittelalters,” Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literature 117 (1988): 1-23.
 Bürkle’s argument for Ebner is part of a long line of work by primarily German scholars on the Sister-books. Piece by piece, they (including Bürkle herself, working on Engelthal) have built an argument for the 14th-century Dominican women’s texts as deliberate literary works, though they differ as to the purpose of these constructions and what information the Sister-books can still tell scholars. “Die ‘Offenbarungen’ der Margareta Ebner: Rhetorik der Weiblichkeit und der autobiographische Pakt,” in Weibliche Rede – Rhetorik der Weiblichkeit. Studien zum Verhältnis von Rhetorik und Geschlechterdifferenz, ed. Doerte Bischoff and Martina Wagner (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003), 79-102.
In a letter (T266/G89) that St. Catherine wrote to Raymond of Capua, dated to about February 17, 1376, she develops an extended analogy between a soul learning to love God and a person approaching the sea.[i] She tells Raymond:
For when a soul sees not self for self’s sake, but self for God and God for God, inasmuch as he is supreme eternal Goodness, […] it finds in him the image of his creature, and in itself, that image, it finds him. That is, the love a man sees that God has for him, he, in turn, extends to all creatures, and so at once feels compelled to love his neighbour as himself, for he sees how supremely he himself is loved by God when he beholds himself in the wellspring of the sea of the divine Essence. He is then moved to love self in God and God in self, like a man who, on looking into the water, sees his image there and seeing himself, loves and delights in himself. If he is wise, he will be moved to love the water rather than himself, for had he not first seen himself, he could not have loved or been delighted by himself; nor removed the smudge on his face revealed to him in the well. Think of it like this […]: we see neither our dignity nor the defects that mar the beauty of our soul unless we go and look at ourselves in the still sea of the divine Essence wherein we are portrayed; for from it we came when God’s Wisdom created us to his image and likeness (171-172).[ii]
As McDermott explains, when a person comes to the sea (God) and looks into it, the first step is to observe “how supremely he himself is loved by God.” The fact that the person is loved by God is so arresting that they continue to stare into the water (125). Next, the person “beholds himself in the wellspring of the sea of the divine Essence,” and because the sea is so beautiful, the person is moved to love themselves in the sea (God) and God in themselves. The person understands that they are made in God’s image and therefore reflect goodness. This goodness cannot exist apart from the water (God) (125-126). The third step is “to love the water.” By doing this, the person is slowly transformed; “Because love always tends toward union with the beloved, the human person’s desire for union with God now emerges” (126). As the person becomes immersed in the sea, they realize that God also desires union with them. The last stage, according to McDermott’s recapitulation, is that as the person persists in gazing into the water, they come to notice their dissimilarity to God. Selfishness has left their face blemished (127). Thus, the soul begins to hate the selfish part of itself and to love more the part that resembles God (127-128).
Water is a substance replete with possible symbolic meanings and is employed in many literal and figurative roles in the Bible. So it is apropos that Catherine chooses to think in these terms. As a child running about the streets of Siena, she no doubt stared into many a well and fountain, as the city contains a plethora.
However, she consistently refers to God as the “mare pacifico.”[iii] And it was on a trip to Pisa in 1375 that Catherine first saw the Mediterranean, a year before the above letter was written. Indeed, it seems Catherine found great inspiration in the ocean during her travels. As Mary Ann Fatula notes, “The Trinity became for Catherine a ‘deep sea’ that she sought to enter with all the power of her being: ‘The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you’” (66).[iv] In this beautiful chiasmus, quoted from the Dialogue’s conclusion (364), we hear resonances of St. Anselm’s (1033-1109) Proslogion.[v] And yet, in her letter, Catherine does not seem to articulate Bernard’s fourth degree of love in her progression. However, we must ask whether or not the person staring into God, the “peaceful sea,” once they have united themselves to God in abandoning self-interest, would be like the man depicted in what follows, having become immersed in the water.
In the chapter titled “Catherine’s Wisdom” in Raymond of Capua’s vita of St. Catherine of Siena—what is known as the Legenda maior—he relates a particular discussion between himself and the saint in which she outlines her beliefs concerning love.[vi] Though brief, Raymond tells us that through self-knowledge, “The soul that sees its own nothingness and knows that its whole good is to be found in the Creator forsakes itself and all its powers and all other creatures and immerses itself wholly in Him.”[vii] Indeed, the soul directs “its operations towards Him […] never alienating itself from Him, for it realizes that in Him it can find all goodness and perfect happiness” (86). This same idea, which aptly expresses the progression through Bernard’s first three degrees of love, is stated in Catherine’s Dialogue and Letters numerous times, but Raymond continues to relate her argument to describe a fourth degree. Catherine teaches that once the soul has come to an awareness of God’s beneficence and love, “Through this vision […], increasing from day to day, the soul is so transformed into God that it cannot think or understand or love or remember anything but God and the things of God. Itself and other creatures it sees [and remembers] only in God” (86).
To this synopsis, Raymond appends an analogy, illustrating for us Catherine’s thought. He tells us that when a soul has united with God, “it is like a man who dives into the sea and swims under the water: all he can see and touch is water and the things in the water, while, as for anything outside the water, he can neither see it nor touch it nor feel it.” Furthermore, “If the things outside the water are reflected in it, then he can see them, but only in the water and as they look in the water, and not in any other way.” Raymond finishes his summary of Catherine’s theology of love, as it were, by saying that “This […] is the true and proper way of delighting in oneself and all other creatures, and it can never lead to error, because, being necessarily always governed by God’s ordinance, it cannot lead to […] anything outside God, because all activity takes place within God” (86). The picture that Raymond paints is remarkably similar to St. Bernard’s fourth degree of love but far more vivid and comprehensible to someone existing in an embodied, terrestrial state. Moreover, it is quite clear that both Catherine and Raymond believe that the fourth degree of love can be reached on this earth, in this life, while Bernard shies away from this possibility. While Raymond certainly gleans his aquatic imagery from Catherine’s letter, his understanding of the fourth degree of love—in keeping with Bernard’s terminology—stems, in large part, from her Dialogue.[viii] Looking back, with Raymond’s analogy under our belts, the person standing on the beach in Catherine’s letter possesses the possibility of jumping into the sea and looking back to shore with a new perspective, viewing the world, then, from the opposite vantage point. In all actuality, what Raymond is doing is combining Catherine’s teachings into this powerful illustration, integrating what she writes in her letter with the thought she lays out in her Dialogue. He, in essence, glosses her theology of love.
While all hagiographers have their own agenda and will oftentimes bend the life of a holy person to fit certain clerically approved tropes, Raymond is faithful, I think, in this case to the message that Catherine so desperately sought to express. But more than this, he also shows us that Catherine lived according to her theology, even attaining the ultimate degree of love. For Catherine, the pivotal movement occurs when the growth of fidelity continues, as Noffke puts it, “deepening into friendship and even spousal relationship with God” (67). This, for Catherine, takes place in Christ’s heart—not the mouth, as in much of the commentary tradition on the Song of Songs. While Raymond may often call Catherine the “bride of Christ,” this is not the end of love’s stages as taught or lived by St. Catherine, nor is it for Raymond. For Catherine, the mouth is used for other purposes—meditation and ministry.
When the soul has reached the mouth of Christ and excellence, Catherine informs us in her Dialogue that, “she shows this by fulfilling the mouth’s functions;” that is, “she speaks […] with the tongue of holy and constant prayer.” This tongue possesses a dual expression: interiorly it prays for souls; exteriorly, the mouth “proclaims the teaching of […] Truth, admonishing, advising, testifying, without any fear” (140). This is how the human person attains Bernard’s fourth degree; they turn from their all-absorbing bond with God back to the world, extending, in their action, the love of God—God himself—in which they now perfectly participate. In its neighbors, the soul is “afforded the means to practise love of God,” which then results in a more unitive relationship with God (Cavallini 142).[ix] Raymond portrays Catherine making this transition at the beginning of the second part of her vita when she is called to a more active life.
Following Catherine’s gradual entrance into the public arena, she began her acts of charity, first simply doing good works for others, then personally calling people to spiritual conversion—metanoia—as well as being an example for her followers, and then even traveling and settling disputes between whole regions of Europe. As Raymond tells us, “The source and basis of all she did was love; and so charity towards her neighbour surpassed all her other actions” (116). Catherine resisted giving up her life of solitude to minister to others, but in the end, she shifted “from a love that centered essentially in her own intimate possession of God to a love that was outgoing and redemptive while still deeply grounded in contemplative prayer” (Noffke 65). In this way, Catherine managed to fuse the active and contemplative lives. Catherine progressed from exemplifying Bernard’s third degree to being the “Saviour of Souls,” seeking “both to unite with God and to serve vigorously her society and church” (Scott 36).[x]
Thus, St. Catherine of Siena lived her own spiritual lessons. Raymond not only skillfully explains Catherine’s theology of love, but also shows us the final progression through Catherine herself. In this way, he makes what Bernard believed unattainable into an, at least possible, reality. Of course, Catherine was an exceptional person, and this lies at the heart of Raymond’s bid for her canonization (384). Having spent so much time together, there existed a special symbiosis between Raymond and Catherine, which allowed him to understand her in a way that her humility would not. His hagiographic effort points to her doctrine and gives it shape. Just as Catherine interpreted and enhanced St. Bernard’s degrees of love, Raymond glosses St. Catherine and brings the progression full circle by holding her up as an example of the fourth degree of most perfect and holy love. From humble beginnings and in the face of patriarchal strictures, Catherine has touched the lives of many and left an indelible mark upon the history of Western Christianity and theological thought. In her own words to Raymond of Capua—in her own hand—she says that God provided her with an aptitude for writing “so that when I descended from the heights [of contemplation], I might have a little something with which I could vent my heart, lest it burst” (Letter 272).[xi]
Hannah Zdansky, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame
Ashley, Benedict. “St. Catherine of Siena’s Principles of Spiritual Direction.” Spirituality Today 33 (1981): 43-52.
Astell, Ann W. Eating Beauty: The Eucharist and the Spiritual Arts of the Middle Ages. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.
Astell, Ann. “Heroic Virtue in Blessed Raymond of Capua’s Life of Catherine of Siena.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 42 (2012): 35-57.
Catherine of Siena: The Creation of a Cult. Ed. Jeffrey Hamburger and Gabriella Signori. Turnhout: Brepols, 2013.
Coakley, John W. Women, Men, and Spiritual Power: Female Saints and Their Male Collaborators. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.
Friedman, Joan Isobel. “Politics and the Rhetoric of Reform in the Letters of Saints Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena.” Livres et lectures de femmes en Europe entre Moyen Âge et Renaissance. Ed. Anne-Marie Legaré and Bertrand Schnerb. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. 279-294.
Gardner, Edmund G. “St. Catherine of Siena.” The Hibbert Journal 5 (1906): 570-589.
Hollywood, Amy. Acute Melancholia and Other Essays: Mysticism, History, and the Study of Religion. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.
Levasti, Arrigo. My Servant, Catherine. Trans. Dorothy M. White. London: Blackfriars Publications, 1954.
Luongo, F. Thomas. “Cloistering Catherine: Religious Identity in Raymond of Capua’s Legenda maior of Catherine of Siena.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 3 (2006): 25-69.
Luongo, F. Thomas. TheSaintly Politics of Catherine of Siena. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.
Mews, Constant. “Catherine of Siena, Florence, and Dominican Renewal: Preaching through Letters.” Studies on Florence and the Italian Renaissance in Honour of F. W. Kent. Ed. P. F. Howard and C. Hewlett. Turnhout: Brepols, 2016. 387-403.
Mews, Constant. “Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena: Emotion, Devotion, and Medicant Spiritualities in the Late Fourteenth Century.” Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures 1 (2012): 235-252.
Noffke, Suzanne. “Catherine of Siena, Justly Doctor of the Church?” Theology Today 60 (2003): 49-62.
Noffke, Suzanne. “Catherine of Siena.” Medieval Holy Women in the Christian Tradition c. 1100-c. 1500. Ed. A. Minnis and R. Voaden. Turnhout: Brepols, 2010. 601-622.
Tylus, Jane. ReclaimingCatherine of Siena: Literacy, Literature, and the Signs of Others. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Walsh, Ann. “St. Catherine of Siena: Doctor of the Church.” Supplement to Doctrine and Life 8 (1970): 134-144.
[i] For the dating, see Noffke’s The Letters, vol. 2, p. 2. In what follows, however, I am making use of the letter as translated by Kenelm Foster and Mary John Ronayne in I, Catherine: Selected Writings of St. Catherine of Siena. London: Collins, 1980. Suzanne Noffke renders the Italian fonte, which possesses multiple meanings, as the very literal ‘fountain.’ I think this word would best be translated as ‘wellspring,’ as in Foster and Ronayne’s edition, or even ‘fount,’ both meaning the water itself. ‘Wellspring’ also better captures the image of Christ as the source of living water (John 4:7-15; 7:37-38).
[ii] Insofar as the water acts as a mirror, Catherine’s thinking here shares much with St. Augustine’s in De Trinitate (c. 400-416).
[iii] At the end of the Dialogue—after having exclaimed “O abyss! O eternal Godhead! O deep sea!”—Catherine concludes her discussion of faith by saying, “Truly this light is a sea, for it nourishes the soul in you, peaceful sea, eternal Trinity. Its water is not sluggish; so the soul is not afraid because she knows the truth. It distills, revealing hidden things, so that here, where the most abundant light of faith abounds, the soul has, as it were, a guarantee of what she believes. This water is a mirror in which you, eternal Trinity, grant me knowledge; for when I look into this mirror, holding it in the hand of love, it shows me myself, as your creation, in you, and you in me through the union you have brought about of the Godhead with our humanity” (365-366).
[iv] See Fatula’s Catherine of Siena’s Way. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1987.
[v] Anselm petitions God: “Teach me to seek you, and as I seek you, show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you show me how, and I will never find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you by desiring you, and desire you be seeking you; let me find you by loving you and love you in finding you” (243). This language is very similar to the opening of St. Augustine’s Confessions. For this translation, see The Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselmwith the Proslogion. Trans. Benedicta Ward. New York: Penguin Books, 1973.
[vi] The English translation used is the following: The Life of St. Catherine of Siena. Trans. George Lamb. Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 2003. The work on which this is based is S. Caterina da Siena. Trans. Giuseppe Tinagli. Siena: Cantagalli, 1934, with reference to the Latin Bollandist text of 1860.
[vii] On the importance of self-knowledge, see Thomas McDermott’s “Catherine of Siena’s Teaching on Self-Knowledge.” New Blackfriars 88 (2007): 637-648. In short, Catherine views self-knowledge as the fundamental basis of spiritual development (643).
[viii] Without a doubt, Raymond was very familiar with the material of Catherine’s Dialogue, for he quotes it to a great extent in one of the later chapters in the vita, titled “For Christ Alone.” In fact, another one of Catherine’s letters addressed to him (T272/G90) also recounts some of the same ideas as found in the Dialogue.
[ix] See Giuliana Cavallini’s Catherine of Siena. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1998.
[x] See Karen Scott’s “St. Catherine of Siena, ‘Apostola.’” Church History 61 (1992): 34-46.
[xi] For this letter, see pp. 538-39 of Le Lettere di Santa Caterina da Siena. Ed. Antonio Volpato, in Santa Caterina da Siena: Opera Omnia. Testi e concordanze. Ed. Fausto Sbaffoni. Pistoia: Provincia Romana dei Frati Predicatori, 2002. The translation is taken from p. 156 of Jane Tylus’s chapter “Mystical Literacy: Writing and Religious Women in Late Medieval Italy” in A Companion to Catherine of Siena. Ed. Carolyn Muessig, George Ferzoco, and Beverly Mayne Kienzle. Leiden: Brill, 2012.