To the King of France
Catherine's letters to great personages whom she did not know are, as would be expected, less searching and fresh than the many written with a more personal inspiration, but they afford at least an interesting testimony to the breadth of her interests. This letter to Charles V. was evidently written during her stay at Avignon, where she formed relations with the Duke of Anjou, and received his promise to lead in the prospective Crusade. Avignon was a centre of intellectual life and of European politics, and Catherine must have been quickened there to think more than ever before in large terms and on great issues. To think of a matter is always, for her, to feel a sense of responsibility toward it; she writes, accordingly, to Charles V., urging him to make peace with his brother monarch: "For so," says the maid of Siena serenely to the great King -- "So you will fulfil the will of God and me."

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest lord and father in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you observe the holy and sweet commands of God, since I consider that in no other way can we share the fruit of the Blood of the Spotless Lamb. Sweet Jesus, the Lamb, has taught us the Way: and thus He said: "Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita." He is the sweet Master who has taught us the doctrine, ascending the pulpit of the most holy Cross. Venerable father, what doctrine and what way does He give us? His way is this: pains, shames, insults, injuries, and abuse; endurance in true patience, hunger and thirst; He was satiate with shame, nailed and held upon the Cross for the honour of the Father and our salvation. With His pains and shame He gave satisfaction for our guilt, and the reproach in which man had fallen through the sin committed. He has made restitution, and has punished our sins on His own Body, and this He has done of love alone and not for debt.

This sweet Lamb, our Way, has despised the world, with all its luxuries and dignity, and has hated vice and loved virtue. Do you, as son and faithful servant of Christ crucified, follow His footsteps and the way which He teaches you: bear in true patience all pain, torment, and tribulation which God permits the world to inflict on you. For patience is not overcome, but overcomes the world. Be, ah! be a lover of virtue, founded in true and holy justice, and despise vice. I beg you, by love of Christ crucified, to do in your state three especial things. The first is, to despise the world and yourself and all its joys, possessing your kingdom as a thing lent to you, and not your own. For well you know that nor life nor health nor riches nor honour nor dignity nor lordship is your own. Were they yours, you could possess them in your own way. But in such an hour a man wishes to be well, he is ill; or living, and he is dead; or rich, and he is poor; or a lord, and he is made a servant and vassal. All this is because these things are not his own, and he can only hold them in so far as may please Him who has lent them to him. Very simple-minded, then, is the man who holds the things of another as his own. He is really a thief, and worthy of death. Therefore I beg you that, as The Wise, you should act like a good steward, made His steward by God; possessing all things as merely lent to you.

The other matter is, that you maintain holy and true justice; let it not be ruined, either for self-love or for flatteries, or for any pleasing of men. And do not connive at your officials doing injustice for money, and denying right to the poor: but be to the poor a father, a distributer of what God has given you. And seek to have the faults that are found in your kingdom punished and virtue exalted. For all this appertains to the divine justice to do.

The third matter is, to observe the doctrine which that Master upon the Cross gives you; which is the thing that my soul most desires to see in you: that is, love and affection with your neighbour, with whom you have for so long a time been at war. For you know well that without this root of love, the tree of your soul would not bear fruit, but would dry up, abiding in hate and unable to draw up into itself the moisture of grace. Alas, dearest father, the Sweet Primal Truth teaches it to you, and leaves you for a commandment, to love God above everything, and one's neighbour as one's self. He gave you the example, hanging upon the wood of the most holy Cross. When the Jews cried "Crucify!" He cried with meek and gentle voice: "Father, forgive those who crucify Me, who know not what they do." Behold His unsearchable love! For not only does He pardon them, but excuses them before His Father! What example and teaching is this, that the Just, who has in Him no poison of sin, endures from the unjust the punishment of our iniquities!

Oh, how the man should be ashamed who follows the teaching of the devil and his own lower nature, caring more to gain and keep the riches of this world, which are all vain, and pass like the wind, than for his soul and his neighbour! For while abiding in hate with his neighbour, he has hate by his side, since hate deprives him of divine charity. Surely he is foolish and blind, for he does not see that with the sword of hate to his neighbour he is killing himself.

Therefore I beg you, and will that you follow Christ crucified, and love your neighbour's salvation: proving that you follow the Lamb, who for hunger of His Father's honour and the salvation of souls chose bodily death. So do you, my lord! Care not if you lose from your worldly substance; for loss will be gain to you, provided that you can reconcile your soul with your brother. I marvel that you are not willing to devote to this, not only temporal things, but even, were it possible, life itself: considering how great destruction of souls and bodies there has been, and how many Religious and women and children have been injured and exiled by this war. No more, by love of Christ crucified! Do you not reflect of how great harm you are cause, if you fail to do what you can? Harm to the Christians, and harm to infidels. For your strife has obstructed the mystery of the Holy Crusade, and is doing so still. If no other harm than this followed, it seems to me that we ought to expect the divine judgment. I beg you that you be no longer a worker of so great harm and an obstructer of so great good as the recovery of Holy Land and of those poor wretched souls who do not share in the Blood of the Son of God. Of which thing you ought to be ashamed, you and the other Christian rulers: for this is a very great confusion in the sight of men and abomination in the sight of God, that war should be made against one's brother, and the enemy left alone, and that a man should want to take away another person's possessions and not to win his own back again. No more such folly and blindness! I tell you, on behalf of Christ crucified, that you delay no longer to make this peace. Make peace, and direct all your warfare to the infidels. Help to encourage and uplift the standard of the most holy Cross, which God shall demand from you and others at the point of death -- demanding also from you account for such ignorance and negligence as has been committed and is committed every day. Sleep no more, for love of Christ crucified, and for your own profit, during the little time that remains to us: for time is short, and you are to die, and know not when.

May the flame of holy desire to follow this holy Cross and to be reconciled with your neighbour, increase in you! In this wise you will follow the way and doctrine of the Lamb slain and abandoned on the Cross, and you will observe the commandments. You will follow the way, enduring with patience the injuries that have been offered you; the doctrine, being reconciled with your neighbour; and the love of God, which you will manifest by following the most holy Cross in the holy and sweet Crusade. As to this matter, I think that your brother, Messer the Duke of Anjou, will undertake the labour of this holy enterprise, for the love of Christ. There would be reason for self-reproach did so sweet and holy a mystery remain unfulfilled through you. Now in this wise you will follow the footsteps of Christ crucified, you will fulfil the will of God and me, and His commands: as I told you that I wished to see you observe the holy commands of God. I say no more. Pardon my presumption. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

to gregory xi 4
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