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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"To This I am Inviting You:" Community Building in the Letters of Catherine of Siena, 1378-1380

  • Author(s): Wiggins, Wyatt
  • Advisor(s): McLoughlin, Nancy
  • et al.

In exploring the community building techniques of the medieval saint and doctor of the church, Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), this essay argues that the Italian mystic actively envisioned a vibrant community of followers alongside collaborative efforts of Dominican clergymen. It is through Catherine’s letters that this project primarily argues that through her use of the epistolary form, the saint and her interlocutors directed supporters to act authoritatively in political and spiritual matters. This project specifically interrogates letters between 1378-1380, at the beginning of the Great Schism (1378-1417), where there existed multiple papal claimants to church authority. This paper argues that through Catherine’s letter writing during this politically charged time, Catherine and her interlocutors envisioned and created a heightened mystical community of believers.

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