On Her Journey To Avignon To Argue The Fate Of The Church With The Pope

The saint descended
From her carriage to stretch

Her forefinger to a peasant girl
Whose face was covered with sores;

Was it pity confused with love
That burned Catherine’s breast to pause

So often, the holy ghost a vision
She saw in others of heaven, or hell?

She washed the girl’s face
In a nearby brook where the leprosy

Rinsed away with water;
Then the wet eyes of her followers

Watched the saint’s hips
As she swayed

Back to her carriage, lifted her foot
And gathered the hem of her skirt

In her hands the same as any woman.

SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY is editor of the New Hampshire literary journal The Red Brick Review. This poem is from a series based on the life of medieval saint Catherine of Siena, known for her compassion, courage, and fine theological mind. The poems, along with the work of Ecuadoran sculptor Larissa Marangoni, make up an exhibit appearing in northeastern U.S. universities.

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Sojourners Magazine June 1994
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