Tuesday 12 March 2024

St Catherine of Siena - Alice Curtayne

St. Catherine of Siena
Alice Curtayne
Dominican Publications
Dominican Publications

I discovered the works of Alice Curtayne in 2018. Since then I have been able to track down and read volumes by her a total of 29 times, this being the 23rd separate title. I absolutely love her works. Her writings are often a treasure-trove of Irish history and culture; both historically and up to the middle of the last century. Her other works focus on saints throughout the ages. She also wrote fiction, and for numerous publications. I now have all her books, booklets and pamphlets, or at least I believe I do. I have scoured library around the globe trying to track down a complete list of her published works and then to get copies of them. This is one I received from the National Library of Ireland, by purchasing a scanned copy. And still have a few to go. 

I believe that this is one of three editions of this booklet that were in print. I believe there were 2 other editions published by Augustine Publishing Company (1981) and the Catholic Truth Society (1956). There are booklet length volumes around the same page count from both of those publishers with the same title. When reading and reviewing her other works sometimes volumes had very different titles in from different publishers but were in fact the same book. Sometimes those different editions were in different countries or just different publishers at a later date. But back to this volume.

The chapters in this booklet are:

The Historical Background
In The Beginning
School of Mystics
Public Life
Pope Gregory XI and Catherine
Catherine the Mystic
Catherine the Writer
Catherine’s Life in Rome
The Failure of the Fellowship
Death of Catherine
Canonisation and Cult
The Dominican Third Order

I highlighted numerous passages while reading this book some of them are:

“SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA was born in 1347 and died in 1380 at the age of thirty-three. It is not necessary to know in any great detail the history of the fourteenth century in order to appreciate her effect. There are just two general facts about her period which have to be known: the ruin caused by the Black Death and the Avignon exile of the Papacy.”

“The world has never seen before or since such an enormous universal disaster. Historians have not agreed on the estimates of the numbers who died of it, but whole cities, towns, and villages were sometimes wiped out.”

“While still in her teens she set out on the amazing venture of trying to restore to the Church some part of what it had lost. Before she died, she had become one of the half  dozen key figures of international policy. All the crowned heads of Europe knew her. It was debated whether she was a fanatic, a witch, an imposter, or a Saint.” 

“CATHERINE WAS NOT very long in public life before she discovered the urgent need of reform in the Church.”

“She turned a totally deaf ear to the current opinion of her day with its defeatist phrases about vain dreams and idle hopes. She looked at the forbidding shape of things with complete realism not in timidity. She thought and prayed, especially prayed. Gradually in this way the main work of her life became compellingly clear.”

THE MYSTICISM of  Catherine of Siena is an aspect of her cl1aracter and life which no fay person is really competent to explain. Such a writer can indicate only its exterior manifestations. Since no account of her life could be considered complete without reference to her mysticism, this imperfect indication must now be set before the reader.”

I hope those few quotes give you a feel for this work. Curtayne does an amazing job of giving an overview of the life and work of Catherine of Siena in this little volume. This work may be an abbreviated edition of Saint Catherine Of Siena A Woman Who Changed The World which was published in 1929 and again in 1935 and is still in print today and comes in at over 200 pages. The current edition from TAN comes in at 268 pages. 

This little volume was well worth tracking down on my quest to read the complete works of Alice Curtayne. I greatly enjoyed returning to the subject of this volume by this author in this shorter version after the 4 years between reading the other longer edition. This is an excellent read and I can easily recommend this and anything from the pen of Curtayne.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books and Booklets by Alice Curtayne:
A Recall to Dante
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Patrick Sarsfield
Saint Anthony of Padua
St. Bernard Doctor of The Church 1933

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Books Translated by Alice Curtayne:
Labours in the Vineyard by Giovanni Papin

Books Contributed to by Alice Curtayne:

Croagh Patrick  Alice Curtayne

Saint Patrick Apostle of Ireland Alice Curtayne

Mary Aikenhead - Alice Curtayne

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