We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Today is the 626th anniversary of the death of St Catherine of Siena, at age 33. (It is also my birthday, so I’ll write what I want to.) This Catherine is a figure not only in hagiography, but also in world history. She changed its course by persuading a weak pope to return from Avignon to Rome, in defiance of a French king and the entire papal curia, to face greater dangers. She was the decisive influence in stopping a civil war, forging unexpected and fruitful alliances between Italian city states. By such means, she helped restore a papacy that had all but disintegrated, and put it back on what the Marxists call, “the right side of history”.
It was a moment, in the 14th century, when Europe might have ceased to be Catholic. There have been several such moments; and in remembering them, we might even find hope today -- supposing we ourselves are on the right side of history.
She was no mere Helen of Troy, inspiring events limply. Catherine of Siena forged them by her own command. Or rather, as she insisted, by the command of God, through the vehicle of her own strange, otherworldly person. As a small child, she began having visions, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. She died so young, probably from the cumulative effects of her austerities and mortifications.
Image is Pompeo Batoni's 1787 The Ecstasy of St. Catherine