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St. Catharine of Sienna was to the fourteenth century, what St. Bernard was to the twelfth; that is, the light and support of the Church. At the moment in which the bark of St. Peter is most strongly agitated by the tempest, God gives it for pilot a poor young girl who conceals herself in the poor shop of a Dyer. Catherine sets foot in the territory of France, to lead the Sovereign Pontiff Gregory XI. from the delights of his native land; she brings the Popes from Avignon to the tomb of the Apostles, the real centre of Christianity. Her zeal is inflamed at the view of the disorders which are preparing the great schism of the West, and she displays an extraordinary activity in order to avert it. She addresses herself to cardinals, princes, and kings; she negotiates peace between the nations and the Holy See, brings back to God a multitude of souls, and communicates by her teaching and examples a new vigour to those great Religious Orders which are the living, vibrating pulse of the Church. Urban VI. claims her counsels; she has tens to Rome, sustains by her word the Sacred College, alarmed by the threatening storm; and in presence of the evils which overturn the heritage of Christ, she offers herself to God as a victim, and terminates her sacrifice, at thirty three years of age, by a painful martyrdom.
The Blessed Raymond of Capua presents the most precious qualities that could be united in a historian. He is not a simple and credulous man whose imagination can be easily seduced, but a Religious of profound knowledge and renowned sanctity, who relates to tho Church what he saw and heard; and he does it with all the conditions which oblige his testimony to be accepted.
A descendant of the celebrated Pierre des Vignes, Chancellor of Frederick Ir., he employed eminently better than his ancestor, the activity of his mind and the splendour of his talents. Entering betimes into tho Order of St. Dominick, he exercised its most important offices. After directing during four years, the Monastery of Montepulciano, he became Professor of Theology at Sienna, and was the confessor of St. Catharine, whom he accompanied in her journeys to France and Italy. Urban VI. confided to him the most delicate and the roost difficult affairs. In 1380, he was named General Master of his order, which he governmed during nineteen years. Schism and plague had enfeebled the children of St. Dominick; the Blessed Raymond restored its ancient vigour, and it was under his agency that was developed in the order of Friar Preachers, that epoch so fruitful in virtues and talent. The Blessed Jean de Dominici, Antoine Nevrot, Constante Fabriano, Pierre Capucci, Saint Antonino, Fra Angelico, Fra Benedetto, are sons of that reform which he established in the convent of Lombardy, Tuscany, Sicily, Hungary, Germany, Spain, and France. He died in the midst of his work, in 1399, at N1.lremhurg, and his body was transported to Naples-where it now reposes amid the splendours of the church of St. Dominick.
The fatigues of his apostolate did not prevent him from leaving precious writings behind him. Besides the life of St. Agnes of Montepulciano and that of St. Catharine, he translated into Latin, the spiritual treatises of her of whom he was at once the Confessor and Disciple. He composed an admirable commentary on the Magnificat, the Office of the Festival of the Visitation, a. treatise on reform, and a great number of very remarkable letters.- All his contemporaries laud his science and hig virtues; the Sovereign Pontiffs wished to raise him to the highest dignities of the Church, but his humility opposed it. Urban VI., in the briefs which he addresses to him, styles him his head, eyes, and mouth, his feet and his hands; he claims for him the veneration of the Emperor, of kings, cardinals, and people.
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