Drawn by Love
The Mysticism of Catherine of Siena
"The heart is always drawn by love" Dialogue 26
"A marvelous site dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena" - Amy Welborn
Kenelm Foster's article from the Westminster Dictionary
Welcome to the fascinating world
This website is intended as a resource to the mystical thought of Catherine of Siena (c. 1347-1380), Dominican saint, mystic, Doctor of the Church, and one of the most remarkable women of the 14th century.
Although much has been written about her life, relatively little attention has been given to her spiritual teaching as found in the compendium of her mystical thought known as the Dialogue, her 381 letters, and 26 prayers. In this website we have brought together some of the very best but often hard-to-find resources on Catherine's thought in the hope of filling this lacuna in spirituality. Every effort has been made to post materials on this website in such a way that citations for academic papers can be made without having to find the originals in a library. We hope to add new materials to this site from time-to-time--so please come back often.
Catherine's thought has long been regarded as somewhat difficult and even impenetrable owing to the lack of English translations of her works (a problem which, for the most part, no longer exists) and the fact that many of her teachings were dictated to others over a period of time while she was in a mystical state and therefore contain interruptions, repetitions, and overlapping arguments. However, we feel certain that with the help of the material on this website you will be able to "unlock the door" of her mysticism and begin to experience its tremendous richness--- and perhaps be helped along on your own spiritual journey.
The Dialogue, since it requires a bit more effort, should perhaps not be read first. Before reading it for the first time be sure to read Benedict Ashley's article "Guide to Saint Catherine's Dialogue" on this website. To further understand Catherine's mystical thought, read the superb articles by Kenelm Foster and others also posted on this website as well as Thomas McDermott's book, Catherine of Siena: Spiritual development in her life and teaching (see below). When you've been "hooked" on Catherine, then you're probably ready to read Raymond of Capua's medieval biography The Life of Catherine of Siena.
Four important resources...
Catherine of Siena: Essays on Her Life and Thought Edited with an Introduction and Notes
New Priory Press is proud to present this volume of six classic essays on the life and thought of St. Catherine of Siena (1347-80), Dominican mystic and Doctor of the Church. The essays, which include several that appear here in English for the first time, are: Thomas Deman, O.P., “Theology in the Life of St. Catherine of Siena”; Thomas McDermott, O.P., “Catherine of Siena: Doctor of Communion”; Maria Francesca Carnea, “Freedom and Politics in St. Catherine of Siena”; Yves Congar, O.P., “The Holy Spirit in the Prayers of St. Catherine of Siena”; Michael J. Houser, “Processo Castellano. An excerpt from the testimony of Fra Bartolomeo Dominici”; Antoine Lemonnyer, O.P., “The Spiritual Life in the Teaching of St. Catherine of Siena.” (190 pages)
Filled with All the Fullness of God:
Filled with All the Fullness of God examines the truths of Christian faith which pertain to spiritual growth and the '”lived theologies” or spiritualities which derive from them. Far from being an idiosyncratic or personal presentation of Catholic spirituality, McDermott draws from the rich spiritual patrimony of the Church and presents “old” truths” from a fresh perspective.
McDermott discusses a variety of issues: self-knowledge, our understanding of God, our partaking in the divine nature of God through deifying grace, the role of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit in deifying our hearts and minds, the reign of God and the place of the Church and the sacraments, the role of prayer, stages in the spiritual life, and life after death.
He presents Christianity not about “getting into heaven” but as a way of participating in the divine life here and now through deifying grace, in the sphere of the Church with prayer and the Eucharist. McDermott illustrates his argument with a variety of sources: Scripture, the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and contemporary spiritual writers.
“Eminently sensible and practical, this book contains a veritable treasure-house of sources and resources. With unaffected simplicity and wisdom, McDermott allows us to hear the voices of many of the great saints and theologians within the Catholic tradition. A most thoughtful and illuminating introduction!” – Fr. Paul Murray OP, Professor of Spiritual Theology at the Angelicum in Rome.
“Fr. McDermott, O.P. has until now stood out in scholarly circles by presenting Catherine of Siena not only as a saintly mystic but a brilliant theologian as well. Here in his latest work, he draws from his expertise of medieval spirituality (and beyond) to illustrate how true Christian discipleship is not simply a matter of right belief or right action, but to become "filled" with God's very life and thereby become other Christs for the world. McDermott's writing is accurate and alluring, inviting all into this great Catholic transformation.” – Fr. David Meconi, S.J., Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Saint Louis University.
“Here is a delightfully fresh, clearly expressed vision of Catholicism. It is just what the Church needs today: an invitation to intimacy with God that elicits desire for Him and leaves us in wonder over how blessed we are to be Catholic! This book is perfect for adult faith formation, deacon formation and personal spiritual reading.”
Catherine of Siena
* Prayers and devotions to Catherine of Siena
* Letters of her disciples
* Christian mysticism and related topics
A.B. Sharpe, Mysticism. Its True Nature and Value.
London, 1910. [book online]
John A. Hardon, S.J. "Visionaries and Visions"
Catechism of the Catholic Church, On Private Revelations
* Links to other Catherinian sites
New Critical edition of Catherine's letters by A. Volpato
* Other links of interest
This site is managed by Fr. Thomas McDermott, OP, Catholic chaplain, Purdue University, USA
This site was last updated September 17, 2023.