Catherine's letters to this new Pope, if less familiarly affectionate than those to the old, show the same amazing combination of candour and reverence. True to her constant principles in the interpretation of character, she insists on putting the best possible construction on his actions, ascribing his impatient vehemence and bad temper to a noble and partially impersonal cause. One suspects that Urban had lost his temper with poor Fra Bartolomeo because the friar had used too great freedom of speech rather than too little, as Catherine suggests. Despite her generosity, however, she can rebuke pungently enough, as this letter shows. On another occasion, we find her sending to Urban a tangible allegory in the form of bitter oranges, candied within and gilded without, doubtless by her own hands, with a pretty letter to point the moral. And again she wrote: "Mitigate a little, for the love of Christ crucified, those sudden impulses which nature forces on you. In holy virtue, throw nature aside. As God has given you a great heart naturally, so I beg and want you to make it great supernaturally: with zealous desire for virtue and the reform of Holy Church, do you establish the manly heart you have gained in true humility. In this way you will have both natural and supernatural gifts -- for the one without the other would avail little, but would rather inspire us with wrath and pride: and when it came to correcting our intimates it would slacken its pace and become cowardly."
In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:
Most holy and sweet 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 a true and royal ruler of your flock, whom you have to nourish with the Blood of Christ crucified. Your Holiness has to see to it with great diligence to whom you administer that Blood, and by what means it is given; that is, I say, most holy father, that when shepherds are to be appointed in the garden of Holy Church, let them be people who seek God, and not benefices: and let the means of asking for the post be such as act openly in the truth and not in falsehood.
Most holy father, have patience when you are talked to about these things. For they are only said to you for the honour of God and for your salvation, as a son ought to speak who loves his father tenderly, and cannot bear that anything should be done which should turn to the loss or shame of his father; but watches constantly, with intent earnestness, because he sees well that his father, who has to rule a large family, can see no more than one man sees. So if his lawful sons were not earnest in caring for his honour and welfare, he would be deceived many a time and oft. So it stands, most holy father. You are father and lord of the universal body of the Christian religion; we are all under the wings of your Holiness: as to authority, you can do everything, but as to seeing, you can do no more than one man; so your sons must of necessity watch and care with clean hearts and without any servile fear over what may be for the honour of God and the safety and honour of you and the flocks that are beneath your crook. And I know that your Holiness is very desirous of having people to help you; but you must be patient in listening to them.
I am certain that two things must give you pain and make your mind angry, and I am not in the least surprised. The one is that when you hear that sins are committed, it hurts you that God should be wronged, for the wrong and the faults displease you, and you experience a piercing of your heart. In this case we ought not to be patient, or to refrain from grieving over the wrongs that are shown to God. No; for so it would seem as if we conformed us to these same vices. The other thing that might hurt you is when the son who comes to tell you what he feels to be turning into wrong against God and loss to souls and little honour to your holiness, commits such ignorance that he conscientiously obliges himself, in the presence of your Holiness, not to tell you clearly the absolute truth as it is; for nothing should be secret nor hidden from you.
I beg you, holy father, that when your ignorant son offends in this point, your pain should be without any excitement on your part: correct him in his ignorance. I say this, because according to what Master Giovanni told me of Brother Bartolomeo, he annoyed you and made you angry by his faults and his scrupulous conscience; for which he and I have been extremely sorry, since he thought that he had offended your Holiness. I beg you, by the love of Christ crucified, to punish in me every pain that he may have given you; I am ready for any discipline and correction which shall please your Holiness. I believe that my sins were the reason why he showed himself so ignorant, therefore I ought to bear the penalty; and he is very desirous to come penitently to you wherever it might please your Holiness. Have patience to bear his faults and mine. Bathe you in the Blood of Christ crucified; comfort you in the sweet flame of His charity. Pardon my ignorance.
I ask you humbly for your benediction. I thank the Divine Goodness and your Holiness for the favour that you granted me on the day of St. John. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.