The Genius of My Sister – St. Catherine of Siena

Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.

St. Catherine of Siena

Imagine the scandal that would arise if Pope Francis decided, on a whim, to move the papacy from Rome to another country (say, France) and begin to indulge in a life of luxury and avarice. Then suppose that the next six popes followed suit. The Church would be angry, divided, a source of mockery. But, believe it or not, this very scenario did happen many centuries ago in Avignon, France.

The Avignon Papacy, which lasted from 1309-76, resulted in seven consecutive French popes residing in Avignon, France. It was an unprecedented time, one marked by great political tension, scandal, greed and discord. Popes were failing to uphold their duties, seemingly forgetting the example of Christ-like servant leadership that they were called to model. And though the French influence on the Church was less than it appeared to be, to onlookers who were enduring the 100 Years War, it certainly seemed as though the Church had chosen a side; as though the Catholic Church, which was called to be universal, had become French.

This is the latest installment of the series, “The genius of my sister.” Read other articles in the series to learn more about Catholic women throughout history and how they can inspire us today.

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