Catherine of Siena’s influence was felt throughout the kingdoms of Europe. She enjoyed the confidence of popes, royalty, and most of all, the common people of Italy. A complicated woman, she was able to speak bluntly to a queen: “Instead of a woman, you have become the servant and slave of nothingness, making yourself the subject of lies and of the demon who is their father”; and also encourage the wife of a simple tailor: “Clothe yourself in the royal virtues.”
Her story is told in this landmark biography, first published a century ago and praised by Evelyn Underhill as the best modern biography of a saint ever written. Long out of print, this new edition has been slightly abridged and generously supplemented with the reflections of other biographers, historians, and artists—who shed fresh light on what we know about an amazing woman.
“The Road to Siena is a fairly brief-but-concentrated book illustrating a rather brief-but-concentrated life. Our instincts to distrust Catherine’s visions as delusions and her hearty exhortations as mania are natural, but repeatedly Gardner manages to put them down in turn, and all of our modern understanding must be humbled a bit when we read that the invisible stigmata Catherine claimed in her life became manifest and quite visible upon her death, even if her mystical wedding ring did not. Taken together, the book brings the reader into close contact with Catherine’s flame; one feels the heat that singed the consciences of popes and monarchs alike.”
—Elizabeth Scalia, Benedictine Oblate, author of the award-winning Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, and Word on Fire Editor-at-Large