LAY SIEGE TO HEAVEN by Louis de Wohl


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Louis de Wohl continues his dramatizations of the lives of the saints in this fictionalized biography of St. Catherine of Siena. Born in 1348, the twenty-fourth and youngest child of a Siena dyer, Catherine manifested at an early age the indomitable will that was to serve her and the Church so well in the art of statecraft during the Great Schism. Against her parents' wishes she entered a Dominican third order at fifteen, underwent extreme fasting and penances and in general exhibited the spiritual characteristics of the mystic. Until her death at the age of thirty-three she devoted herself to the resolvement of the civil disputes which divided Italian city states from each other and from Rome and though she never learned to write she dictated countless letters to the great figures of the day advocating peace and the reform of the clergy. But by far her greatest achievement was political in the restoration of the Pope, Gregory XI, to Rome from the Rabylonium Captivity in Avignon. Under his successor, Urban VI, she was emissary to Florence. The Papacy never again left Rome though it wasn't until 35 years after Catherine's death that the Schism ended, establishing Urban's canonical right of succession. Catherine was unquestionably one of the greatest figures of the Middle Ages but her emergence as the highly individual, supremely strong-minded woman and diplomat that she was is muted by de Wohl's depressing and boring style.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1960
Publisher: Lippincott