Love of God and love of neighbor: Thomistic virtue of charity in Catherine of Siena's Dialogue

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Theological Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Sandra A. Yocum


Saint Catherine of Siena wrote one of the most theologically orthodox works of mysticism, Dialogue on Divine Providence. Unlike other mystics of the later middle ages, Catherine's Dialogue provided a highly doctrinal theology written in her own vernacular language. Catherine's mystical theology demonstrates influence of several prominent schools of theological thought, most notably the moral theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Like Aquinas, Catherine emphasizes the habituation and practice of the virtues, above all the virtue of charity. Aquinas and Catherine both understood charity as directed towards the two same ends - God and neighbor for God's sake - and as manifesting itself through outward spiritual and corporeal practices. Catherine, however, wrote with a very particular audience in mind - the increasingly literate laity. As demonstrated in her own letters, Catherine understood her writing for a lay audience as spiritual instruction and therefore writing served as an act of charity for her.


Catherine, of Siena, Saint, 1347-1380. Libro della divina dottrina. English, Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274, Mysticism History Middle Ages, 600-1500, Charity, Love Religious aspects Christianity, Medieval History, Medieval Literature, Regional Studies, Religious History, Spirituality, Theology, Saint Catherine of Siena, historical theology, Church history, middle ages, Christian mysticism, vernacular literature, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Dialogue on Divine Providence, charity, virtue

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