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spirit of S. Catharine. The fervour of devotion belonged to him more truly than the leonine power which he unsuccessfully attempted to express in his great figure of S. Mark. Other artists have painted the two Catharines together,— the Princess of Alexandria, crowned and robed in purple, having her palm of martyrdom, beside the nun of Siena, holding in her hand the lantern with which she went about by night among the sick. Ambrogio Borgognone makes them stand one on each side of Madonna's throne, while the Infant Christ upon her lap extends His hands to both, in token of their marriage."
I have shown the reader, as fully as my limits will permit, the nature of the various gifts,—the sublime disinterestedness, the all-absorbing enthusiasm, the force of character and mental power, the intense devotion, and heroic courage, —which made Catharine of Siena what she was, and gave her the position she so worthily occupied. This daughter of a poor tradesman, imperfectly educated, without powerful friends, not even endowed with that personal beauty which is in itself so powerful an instrument, influenced the councils of sovereigns and statesmen, controlled popes and princes, rebuked ecclesiastics, and openly censured the greatest men in Europe for their vices. Her burning piety and her glowing eloquence swayed principalities and peoples. She made popular a doctrine which of all doctrines the world most bitterly dislikes,—the doctrine that we live for the sake of others.1 But if men oould have resisted her prayers or her appeal, was it possible for them to resist her example? Must not the meanest nature have felt a touch of exaltation when it saw her going forth into the most squalid districts on incessant errands of mercy and goodwill, when it heard of the chivalrous intrepidity with which she nursed the plague-stricken, and received their latest sighs? Even at this distance of time, her actions have
1 The law of love was the law of S. Catharine's life. We read it in one of her prayers, which, to this day, is used by the people of Siena :— "O Spirito Santo, o Deita eterna Cristo Amore! vieni nel mio cuore; per la tua potenza trailo a te, mio Dio, e concedemi carita con timore. Liberami, o Amore ineffabile, da ogni mal pensiero; riscaldami ed infiammami del tuo dolcissimo amore, sicche ogni pena mi sembri leggiera. Santo mio Padre e dolce mio Signore, ora aiutami in ogni mio ministero. Cristo amore. Cristo amore."
a vitality which bids us recognise their generosity, their excess of sympathy and love. There may be some disposed to smile at the record of her visions and ecstasies; to sneer at her wild fancy of an espousal to her Redeemer; to shrug the shoulders when her biographers speak of her heart as taken from her side that the heart of Christ might be substituted for it; but calmer judgments will allow for the hallucinations of a morbid nervous system, and admire the moral dignity and the intellectual energy which triumphed over the most unfavourable conditions. And cold indeed must be the heart that does not kindle with emotion when it recalls the story of Nicola Tulda,—a story that will form a fit conclusion to this sketch.
Nicola Tulda, a young knight of Perugia, had been condemned to death on a charge of treason. The accusation was false, the sentence unjust, and the young knight rebelled against it, pacing up and down his prison desperately, and refusing to be comforted. Priests exhorted him in vain: he loved life, and shrank from a shameful death. It chanced that while at Siena he had often heard the name of Catharine, and the thought occurred to him that she might save him. She went to the prison, and though she could not deliver him from his doom, she reconciled him to it. From her conversation he received such comfort, that he willingly made confession; but he exacted from the saintly woman a promise, by the love of God, to stand by the block beside him on the day of his execution. She kept her promise. In the morning, before the great bell of the Campanile tolled, she was in his cell, and went with him to the Holy Communion, which, till then, he had never received. Humbly bowing himself to the will of God, he feared only that his courage might fail him at the last moment. But the infinite mercy of the Saviour So inspired him, that he continued to repeat:—" Lord, be near lie; Lord, do not leave me; if Thou wilt be near me, all will be well, and I shall die content." These were the words he sighed out as he leaned his head upon the bosom of Catharine, who consoled him, saying:—" Be of good courage, dear brother, you are soon going to your heavenly marriage-feast; you go there bathed in the precious Blood °fthe Lamb, and with the beloved Name of Jesus on your lips." At an early hour she repaired to the place of execution, where she waited for him, praying. Kneeling, she laid her own head on the block, as if endeavouring to realize the pain, the bliss of martyrdom. She longed for it herself, she says,1 but the axe did not respond to her wish. In her ecstatic meditation, she lost all sense of time and place; she saw nothing of the vast crowd that surged around the scaffold. Then arrived Nicola, walking "like a gentle lamb," and laughing for joy when he saw her. She made on his breast the sign of the cross, and said :—" Go, gentle brother, to your eternal marriage, and enter upon the life which knows no end." Calmly he knelt, with Catharine by his side; she placed his head upon the block; she whispered to him of the Lamb. He replied with two words only:—" Jesus! Catharine!" The axe fell, and she caught the bleeding head in her pious hands. She closed her eyes, and said :—" Lord, 7' will, and Thou hast promised me what I will,"—and lo, "as clear as the daylight," she saw the Son of God receive the penitent soul into His bosom. "A deep peace," she writes, "fell upon me. So dear was the blood upon my dress, that I could not bear they should ever wash it off. I envied him because he had gone on before, full of joy and love, like a bride, who, having reached the bridegroom's door, turns, and bowing her thanks and her farewells to the companions who have gone with her to the threshold, enters the home of her beloved."
THE REFORMER OF FLORENCE.
"It was the habit of Savonarola's mind to conceive great things, and to feel that he was the man to do them. Iniquity should be brought low; the cause of justice, purity, and love should triumph; and it should triumph by his voice,. by his work, by his blood."—George Eliot.
'' From his early youth to the day in which he was led forth to die on the gallows, he was always equal to himself, in the innocence of his life, in the love of truth, in his charity towards the human race."— Padre Marchess.
[Authorities:—Guicciardini, "StoriaFiorentina;" Sismondi, "Italian Republics;" Villari, "La Storia di Savonarola;" Capponi, "Storia della Repubblica di Firenze;" Von Reumont, "Lorenzo de' Medici;" T. A. Trollope, "History of the Commonwealth of Florence ;" Burlamacchi, "Vita del P. F. Girolamo Savonarola;" F. Myers, Lecture» on Great Men; Dean Milman, Essays, &c., (ed. 1870).]