Of the parents and ancestors of the blessed Catherine, and how at eight years of age she began to do penance; her gift of prayer, and of her desire to enter into religion, and her marriage against her will.

     Catherine was born at Genoa in the year 1447. Her parents, Giacopo Fieschi and Francesca di Negro, daughter of Sigismund, Marquis di Negro, were both of illustrious and noble birth. On account of his merits, her father (a descendant of Robert, brother of Pope Innocent IV, who was uncle of another Pontiff, Adrain V) was created Viceroy of Naples, under King Regnier, in which office he remained until his death.

     Although of very noble parentage, and very delicate and beautiful in person, yet from her earliest years, she despised the pride of birth, and abhorred luxury; so that when only about eight years of age, she was inspired with the desire to do penance, and beginning to dislike the soft indulgence of her bed, she laid herself down humbly to sleep on straw, with a block of hard wood under her head, in the place of pillows of down.

     She had in her chamber that image of our Lord, which is commonly called "La Pieta," and whenever she entered there, and raised her eyes to it, a violent pain seized her whole frame, caused by her grief and love at the thought of what our Lord had suffered for love of us.

     She led a very simple life, seldom speaking with any one, very obedient to her parents, well skilled in the way of the divine precepts, and zealous in the practice of the virtues.

     At the age of twelve, God in his grace bestowed on her the gift of prayer, and a wonderful communion with out Lord, which enkindled within her a new flame of deep love, together with a lively sense of the sufferings he endure in his holy passion, with many other good inclinations for the things of God.

     At the age of thirteen, she was inspired with a desire for the religious life, and immediately communicated this inspiration to her spiritual father, who was also confessor to the devout convent of our Lady of Grace, in which she desired to become a nun, together with her pious sister Limbania. She earnestly begged the Father to make known her holy desire to the superiors of the convent above mentioned, and urge that they would deign to receive her into their company. When this prudent, spiritual father saw and heard such love for religion in one of so tender and delicate age, he began to represent to her the austerities of the religious life; the innumerable temptations of the enemy; the delicacy of her body, and many other things, to all of which Catherine answered with so much prudence and zeal, that the father was astonished, for her replies did not appear to him human, but supernatural and divine; and he therefore promised her that he would lay the matter before the superiors, which he did on the following day, at the same time communicating to them the prudent, remarkable answers of his spiritual daughter to his disclosures concerning the temptations and austerities of the religious life. After taking his proposal into deliberate consideration the superiors of the convent replied, that they were not accustomed to receive among them girls of so tender an age. To this the Father made answer that judgment and devotion not only supplied the want of age, but were better than years; still, they judged it inexpedient to receive her as it was contrary to their custom, which decision greatly afflicted the young girl who still trusted that Almighty God would not abandon her.

     At the age of sixteen, she was married by her parents to a young Genoese of noble family, named, Giuliano Adorno; and although this step was contrary to her wishes, yet her great simplicity, submission, and reverence for her parents gave her patience to endure it.

     But God, who in his goodness would not leave his chosen one to place her affections on the world and the flesh, permitted a husband to be given her entirely the opposite of herself in his mode of life, who caused her so much suffering, that for ten years, she could hardly support life, and by his imprudence she was at length reduced to poverty.

     The last five of these ten years she devoted to external affairs, and feminine amusements, seeking solace for her hard life, as women are prone to do, in the diversions and vanities of the world, yet not to a sinful extent; and she did this, because, during the five first years, she suffered inconsolably from sadness; this was constantly increased by the opposition of her husband's disposition to her own, which distressed her so much, that one day, (it was the vigil of St Benedict), having gone into the church of that saint, in her grief she exclaimed: "Pray to God for me, Oh, St Benedict, that for three months he may keep me sick in bed." This she said almost in desperation, not knowing what to do, so great was her distress of mind; for during the three months before her conversion she was overwhelmed with mental suffering, and filled with deep disgust for all things belonging to the world; wherefore, she shunned the society of every one. She was oppressed with a melancholy quite insupportable to herself, and took no interest in anything.

     But after these ten years she was called by God and converted in a marvelous manner, as will appear hereafter.


She is wounded with divine love in the presence of her confessor. Manifestations of the love of God and of her own offences. The Lord appears to her carrying his cross, and she is taken up three degrees toward God.

     The day following the feast of St Benedict, Catherine, at the instance of her sister, who was a nun, went to confession at the convent of the latter, although she had no desire to do so; but her sister said to her: "At least go to obtain the blessing of our confessor," for he was indeed a holy man. The moment she knelt before him, she was wounded so forcibly with the love of God, and received so clear a revelation of her misery and faults, and of the goodness of God, that she had well nigh fallen to the ground.

     Overpowered by these emotions, and by her sense of the offences she had committed against her dear Lord, she was so drawn away by her purified affections from the miseries of the world, that she became almost beside herself; and without ceasing, internally repented to herself, in the ardor of love: "No more would, no more sin." And at that moment if she had possessed a thousand worlds, she would have thrown them all away.

     Through the ardent flame of burning love with which she was enkindled, her good God, by his grace, impressed instantly upon that soul, and infused into it, all perfection, purging it of all earthly affections, illuminating it with a divine light by which she was enabled to perceive with her interior eye, his goodness; and in a word, united her with himself, and changed and transformed her entirely by the true union of a good will, inflaming her wholly with his burning love.

     The saint while in the presence of her confessor lost entirely all consciousness through this sweet wound of love, so that she could not speak; but her confessor was not yet aware of this when he chanced to be called out, and left her so overwhelmed with grief and love, that she said to him, with great difficulty, when he returned: "With your consent, father, I will leave my confession till another time;" and she did so. Returning home, she was so on fire and wounded with the love which God had interiorly manifested to her, together with the view of her miseries, that, as if beside herself, she went into a private chamber, and gave vent to her burning tears and sighs.

     At that moment she was instructed interiorly in prayer, but her lips could only utter: "oh Love! can it be that you have called me with so much love, and revealed to me at one view, what no tongue can describe?" For many days she could only utter herself in sighs, and wonderfully deep they were; and so great was her contrition for her offences against such infinite goodness, that if she had not been miraculously supported, her heart would have broken, and she would have died.

     But when our Lord saw this soul still more interiorly inflamed with his love, and filled with sorrow for her sins, he appeared to her in spirit, with the cross upon his shoulder, dripping with blood which she saw was shed wholly for love, and this vision so inflamed her heart, that she was more than ever lost in love and grief.

     This vision made such an impression upon her that she seemed always to see with her bodily eyes, her bleeding Love, nailed to the cross. Very plainly too did she see all the offences she had committed against him, and cried out continually: "Oh Love, no more sin, no more sin!" Her hatred of herself became so great, that filled with disgust she exclaimed: "Oh Love, if it be necessary I am prepared to make a public confession of my sins."

     After this she made her general confession with such contrition and compunction, that her soul was at once cleansed of its sins, for God had pardoned them all, consuming them in the flames of love, with which he had already wounded her heart; yet, to satisfy justice he led her through the way of satisfaction, permitting that this contrition and self-knowledge should continue for nearly fourteen months; and when she had made satisfaction, relieved her of the sight of her sins so entirely that she never beheld again the least of them, no more than if they had all been cast into the depths of the sea.

     At that moment of her vocation, when she was wounded at the feet of her confessor, she seemed to be drawn to the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in spirit beheld all the graces, means, and ways, by which the Lord, in his pure love, had brought her to conversion. In this light she remained for more than a year, relieving her conscience by means of contrition, confession, and satisfaction.

     She felt herself drawn with St. John, to rest on the bosom of her loving Lord, and there she discovered a sweeter way which contained in itself many secrets of the bounteous love which was consuming her, so that she was often beside herself; and in her intense eagerness, her hatred of self, and her deep contrition, she would lick the earth with her tongue, and so great was the wain of contrition, and the sweetness of love, that she knew not what she was doing; but she felt her heart lightened, occupied with unbounded, poignant grief, and the sweet ardor of love. Thus she remained for three years or more, melted with love and grief, and with the deep and burning flames that were consuming her heart.

     Then she was drawn to the open wound in the side of the crucified Lord, and there she was allowed to see the Sacred heart of her Lord burning with the same flames with which her own was enkindled; at the sight of this, her heart died within her, and her strength abandoned her. This impression remained for many years which were spent by her, in continual sighs, and burning flames, so that her heart and soul were well nigh melted, and she was constrained to cry out: "I have no longer either soul or heart; but my soul and my heart are those of my Beloved;" and in him she was wholly absorbed and transformed.

     Finally, her sweet and loving Lord drew her to himself, and bestowed upon her a caress, by the power of which she was entirely immersed in that sweet Divinity to which she abandoned herself exteriorly, so that she exclaimed: "I live no longer, but Christ lives in me." She knew no longer whether her mere human acts were good or bad, but saw all things in God.


How the desire was given her to receive holy communion, and of its precious effects in her; of her sufferings when she did not receive, and how it seemed to her that she had lost faith, and walked by sight.

     On the day of the Festival of the Annunciation of the glorious Virgin Mary, after her conversion, that is, after her loving wound, her Lord gave her the desire for holy communion, which she never lost during her whole life; and her Love ordered it in such a way, that communion was given her, without any care on her part, for she was, in a wonderful manner, provided with it in one way or another; and without asking, she was often summoned to receive it, by priests inspired by God to give it to her.

     On one occasion a holy religious said to her: "You receive communion every day, how are you now satisfied?" and she answered him simply, explaining her desires and feelings. In order to prove her, he said to her: "Perhaps there may be something wrong in receiving communion so often:" and then left her. In consequence of this, Catherine, for fear of doing wrong, abstained from communion, but with great pain; and the religious, finding that she thought more of doing wrong, than of the consolation and satisfaction of communion, directed her to make daily communion, and she returned to her accustomed way.

     Once, when at the point of death, so ill that she was unable to take any sustenance, she said to her confessor: "If you would give me my Lord three times only, I should be cured." It was done, and her health was immediately restored. Before receiving communion, she suffered severe pains about the heart, and said: "My heart is not like that of others, for it only rejoices in its Lord; and therefore give him to me." It indeed seemed that otherwise she could not have lived, and if deprived of communion, her life would have consumed away in suffering. Of this there are many proofs, for if, on any day, she happened not to receive, she would pass it in almost insupportable pain, so that her attendants were filled with compassion for her, and believed it clearly, to be the will of God, that she should receive daily.

     One day, after communion, God gave her such consolation, that she lost her consciousness, and the priest could not give her the ablution until she had been restored to herself, and she then exclaimed: "Oh, Lord, I do not desire to follow thee for these consolations, but only for pure love."

     Although she did not easily shed tears she awoke one night weeping, when she had dreamed that she was not to receive on the next day. But if, for any human reason, she could not have received it, she would have been patient and confident, saying to her Lord: "If thou wouldst, it could be given to me."

     She said, that at the beginning of her conversion, when this desire of communion was first given to her, she sometimes envied the priests who received whenever they wished, without causing remarks from any one. And it was her special desire, to be able to say the three masses on Christmas day; so that she envied no one in this world but the priests, and when she saw the Sacrament in the hands of one of them at the altar, she would say within herself: "Take it, take it quickly, to your heart, for it is the Lord of the heart." To receive it, she would have gone miles, and endured fatigues beyond human power to bear.

     When she was at mass she was often so occupied interiorly with her Lord, that she did not hear a word; but when the time came to receive communion she accused herself, and would say: "Oh! my Lord, it seems to me that if I were dead, I should come to life, in order to receive thee, and if an unconsecrated host were given to me, that I should know it by the taste, as one knows wine from water." She said this, because, when consecrated, it sent a certain ray of love into the very depths of her heart.

     She also said, that if she had seen the whole court of heaven, arrayed in such a manner, that there was no difference between God and the angels, yet the love in her heart would have caused her to know God, as the dog knows his master: and much sooner, and with less effort, because love, which is God, himself, instantly and directly finds its end, and last repose.

     At one time, on receiving, she perceived such an odor and such sweetness, that she believed herself in Paradise, when suddenly she turned towards her Lord, and humbly said: "O Lord perhaps thou wouldst draw me to thee by this fragrance? I do not desire it; I desire nothing but thee, and thee wholly; thou knowest, that from the beginning I have asked of thee the grace that I might never see visions, nor receive external consolations, for so clearly do I perceive thy goodness, that I do not seem to walk by faith but by a true and heartfelt experience."


How she was unable to take food during Lent and Advent, being sustained by the Blessed Sacrament

     Some time after her conversion, on the day the Annunciation of our Lady, her Love spoke within her, saying, that he wished her to keep the fast in his company in the desert, and immediately she became unable to eat, so that she was without food for the body until Easter, and with the exception of the three fast days, on which she had the grace to be able to eat, she took nothing during the whole of Lent.

     She afterwards ate, as at other times, without disgust; and in this manner she passed twenty-three Lents and as many Advents, during which time she took nothing but a tumblerful of water, vinegar, and pounded salt. When she drank this mixture, it seemed seemed as if it were thrown upon a red-hot surface, and that it was at once dried up in the great fire that was burning within her. How wonderful! for no one, however healthy, could bear a drink of this kind, fasting; but she described the sweetness that proceeded from her burning heart, as so great, that even this harsh beverage refreshed her.

     This rejection of food, at first, gave her great trouble, for now knowing the cause, she suspected some deception; but when she, again and again, forced herself to take food, and her stomach rejected it, all her family, as well as herself, regarded it as a prodigy; for even when she attempted to eat, in obedience to her confessor, the result was the same.

     This was the more remarkable, because at other times she could eat and retain her food, even up to the very day when Lent and Advent began. During the seasons when she could not eat, she practiced pious works more than at other times, she slept better, and felt stronger and more active; and she also went to table with the others, to avoid, as far as possible, all singularity; and even forced herself to taste something, in order to escape observation; then she would say to herself: "Oh if you knew what I feel within!" By this she meant the burning and pure love, and union with God, which those around her could hardly endure, so much were they astonished that she could not eat; but she paid no heed to them, saying to herself: "If we regarded the operations of God, we should look at the interior more than the exterior. Living without food is purely an operation of God, without my will; but it is nothing to boast of, or to cause surprise, for to him it is as nothing. The pure light shows us, that we should not regard the manifestations that God makes of himself for our necessities and his own glory, but only the pure love with which his divine majesty performs his work in our behalf, and the soul becoming these pure operations of a love which looks for no good that we can do, must needs love him purely, without regard to any particular grace which she receives from him, but looking to him alone, for himself alone, who is worthy of being loved without measure, and with no reference either to soul or body."


Of her great penances and mortifications

     During the first four years after she had received the sweet wound from her Lord, she performed many penances, and mortified all her senses. She deprived her nature of all that it desired, and obliged it to take what it disliked. She wore hair-cloth, and ate no meat, nor fruit of any kind, either fresh or dry; and being by nature courteous and affable, she did great violence to herself, by conversing as little as possible with her relatives when they visited her, without any respect to herself or to them; and if any one was surprised by it, she took no notice.

     She practiced great austerity in sleeping, lying down on sharply pointed things. As soon as she determined to do any thing, she never felt any temptation to the contrary. The fire within was so great, that she took no account of exterior things relating to the body, although she neglected no necessary work; and no temptations except those of her natural inclinations could affect her. This was the case throughout her whole after-life. She so resisted her natural inclinations, that they were completely destroyed. Temptations like insects, could not approach the flames of pure love enkindled in her heart.

     Her eyes were always cast down. During the first four years of her conversion she spent six hours daily in prayer, for such was the obedience of her body to the spirit, that it dared not rebel, although it suffered keenly; and she thus fulfilled in herself the words: cor meum, et caro meo, exultaverunt in Deum vivum.

     During these first four years, the interior fire that was consuming her produced such extreme hunger, and so quickly did she digest her food, that she could have devoured iron. She comprehended that this desire for food was something supernatural. She was also unable to speak except in so low a tone as scarcely to be understood, so powerful was her interior feeling.

     Most of the time she appeared like one beside herself, for she neither spoke, nor heard, nor tasted nor valued any thing in the world; neither did she look at any thing.

     Yet she lived in subjection to every one, and was always more inclined to do the will of others than her own. And it is remarkable, that although God even in the beginning made her perfect by infused grace, so that she was at once entirely purified in her affections, illuminated and peaceful in her intellect, and transformed in all things by his sweet love, yet it was the will of God, that the divine justice should be observed in the mortification of all her senses, which, although they were already mortified, so far as regarded the consent to any natural inclinations, even the slightest, yet the Lord allowed her to see what these were, and therefore, she very carefully opposed them.

     She was sometimes asked, when practising such mortifications of all her senses: "Why are you doing this?" And she answered: "I do not know, but I feel myself interiorly and irresistibly drawn to do so, and I believe that this is the will of God; but it is not his will that I should have any object in it." And it seemed indeed to be the truth, for, at the end of four years, all these mortifications ended, so that if she still wished to practice them, she could no longer have done so.

     At that time, listening one day to a sermon in which the conversion of Mary Magdalen was narrated, she heard a voice in her heart saying: "I understand;" and by her correspondence with the preaching, she perceived her conversion to have been like that of Magdalen.


How she was withdrawn by God from the use of her senses. Of three rules given her by the Lord, and of certain words chosen from the Our Father and Hail Mary, and from the whole of the Holy Scripture.

     After the four years above mentioned, her mind became clear and free, and so filled with God that nothing else ever entered into it. At mass and instructions her bodily senses were closed; but interiorly, in the divine light, she saw and heard many things, being wholly absorbed in secret delights; and it was not in her power to do otherwise.

     It is wonderful, that with all this interior occupation, God did not allow her to depart from the usual order. Whenever it was needful, she returned to her accustomed mode of life, answered the questions put to her, and thus she gave no cause of complaint to any one.

     She was sometimes so lost in the sense of divine love, that she was obliged to hide herself, for she was like one dead. In order to escape such a condition, she endeavored to remain in the company of others, and said to her Lord: "I wish not, O sweet Love, for that which proceeds from thee, but for thyself alone!" She wished to love God without soul and without body, and unsustained by them, with a direct, pure, and sincere, love; but the more she shunned these consolations, the more her Lord bestowed them upon her. Sometimes she was found in a remote place, prostrate on the earth, her face covered with her hands, so completely lost in the sweetness of divine love, that she was insensible to the loudest cry.

     At other times she would walk back and forth, as if lost to self, and following the attraction of love.

     Sometimes, when she had been thus lifeless for the space of six hours, she would be aroused suddenly by the voices of persons calling her, and attend to their smallest wants, for she abandoned as hateful all right to self. On these occasions she came forth from her retirement, with a glowing countenance, like a cherub ready to exclaim: "Who will separate me from the love of God," with all the other words of that glorious apostle.

     Her love once said to her interiorly: "My daughter, observe these three rules, namely: never say I will or I will not. Never say mine, but always ours. Never excuse yourself, but always accuse yourself." Moreover he said to her: "When you repeat the `Our Father' take always for your maxim, Fiat voluntas tua, that is, may his will be done in everything that may happen to you, whether good or ill; from the `Hail Mary' take the word Jesus, and may it be implanted in your heart, and it will be a sweet guide and shield to you in all the necessities of life. And from the rest of Scripture take always for your support this word, Love, with which you will go on your way, direct, pure, light, watchful, quick, enlightened, without erring, yet without a guide or help from any creature; for love needs no support, being sufficient to do all things without fear; neither does love ever become weary, for even martyrdom is sweet to it. And, finally, this love will consume all the inclinations of the soul, and the desires of the body, for the things of this life."


How even her humanity was affected by the burning fire of this love; how much she desired to die, and took delight in hearing masses, bells, and offices, for the dead.

     When the use of her senses and facilities was thus lost, in her spiritual joy she said to her humanity: "Are you satisfied with being thus fed?" And humanity answered: "Yes," and that she would sacrifice every enjoyment in this life for it. What must have been the joys of the soul, if even humanity, so contrary to the spirit, also took delight in peace and union with God?

     This was the case from the beginning, but at last, that burning, interior flame burst forth, and caused a corresponding suffering in the body, so that she was often obliged to press her hand upon her heart for relief. She could not have endured these pains for two successive days, and after their intensity had passed away, her heart was left melted in a divine and wonderful sweetness.

     God allowed her to remain for some days, in this state, and then permitted her to be assailed by another and still more violent attach, so that humanity, rather than take food, would have suffered martyrdom; therefore, when she looked on the dead, or heard offices and masses, or even a passing bell, she rejoiced as if she were going to behold that truth which she experienced in her heart; and she would rather have died than live separated from those things in which she found her support and consolation.

     She became reduced to such a condition, that she had no rest but when she slept; and then she felt herself freed from prison, because her attention was not so continually riveted on God. Her desire for death remained for nearly two years, and she was always asking for it, saying: "O cruel death, why do you keep me so anxiously waiting for you?" This desire knew no why, nor how, and it continued until she began to make daily communion.

     Filled with this desire, she addressed death, as "Gentle death, sweet, gracious, beautiful, strong, rich, precious, death," and by every other name of honor and dignity that she could call to mind, and then added: "I find, O death, but one fault in thee, thou art too sparing of thyself to him who desires thee, and too ready for him who shuns thee; yet I see that thou dost all things, according to the will of God, which is without fault; but our irregular appetites do not correspond, for if they did so, they would rest on the divine will, in peace and silence, as death itself does, and we should have no more choice than if we were already dead and buried." But she said, it really seemed, if there were any choice for her, that death was the thing to be chosen, because thus the soul is secure from ever offering any hindrance to pure love, and is liberated from the prison of this wretched body and of the world, which, with all their power, are continually engaging her, in every way, in their own occupations, while she regards them as her enemies to which she is outwardly subjected.

     When she was performing cruel penances, the sensitive nature never opposed her, but was entirely obedient; but when inflamed with love, it was wonderful how restive it became, and how much it suffered. And for this reason, because in penances the spirit corresponded to humanity, and strengthened her for her share in the work, but afterwards, the spirit being separated from visible things, and God operating in it without means, humanity was left in abandonment, and suffered intolerably without any help. Humanity is indeed capable of penance, but is not capable of such burning love.

     But everything was regulated by her merciful God, with the highest wisdom, which enabled the body to endure the most severe penance, and to live and rejoice in these agonizing flames, without complaining; and no one can know how severe is this suffering, unless he has himself experienced it.


How the Saint devoted herself to pious works, and served in a hospital.

     In the beginning of her conversion she devoted herself to good works, seeking for the poor throughout the city, under the guidance of the Ladies of Mercy on whom devolved this charge and who, according to the custom of the city, supplied her with money and provisions for the poor. She cleansed their houses from the most disgusting filth, and she would even put it in her mouth, in order to conquer the disgust it produced. She took home the garments of the poor, covered with dirt and vermin, and having cleansed them thoroughly, returned them to their owners. It was remarkable that nothing unclean was ever found upon herself: she also tended the sick with most devoted affection, speaking to them of their spiritual as well as of their temporal affairs.

     She took charge of the great hospital of Genoa, where nothing escaped her watchful care, although her incessant occupations never diminished her affection for God, her sweet Love; neither did this love ever cause her to neglect her service in the hospital, which was regarded as a miracle by all who saw her. It is also remarkable that she never made the mistake of a single farthing, in the accounts of large sums of money which she was obliged to keep, and, for her own little necessities, she made use of her own little income.

     There was once in the hospital a very pious woman of the third order of St. Francis, who was dying of a malignant fever. She was in her agony for eight days, and during that time, Catherine often visited her, and would say to her: "Call Jesus!" Unable to articulate, she moved her lips so that it was conjectured that she tried to do so, and Catherine, when she saw her mouth so filled, as it were, with Jesus, could not restrain herself from kissing her, and in this way took the fever, and only narrowly escaped death. This, however, did not diminish her zeal in the service of the hospital, to which she returned immediately upon her recovery, and devoted herself to it with great care and diligence.


Of her wonderful knowledge of God and of herself.

     This servant of God had an almost incredible knowledge of herself. She was so purified and enlightened, so united with and transformed into God, her Love, that what she said seemed to be uttered not by a human tongue, but rather by one angelic and divine; which proves the truth that numble souls, thirsting after God, can often grasp what the mere human intellect can never attain or comprehend. She was accustomed to say: "If it were possible for me to suffer as much as all the martyrs have suffered, and even hell itself, for the love of God, and in order to make satisfaction to him, it would be after all only a sort of injury to God, in comparison with the love and goodness with which he has created, and redeemed, and, in a special manner, called me. For man, unassisted by God's grace, is even worse than the devil, because the devil is a spirit without a body, while man, without the grace of God, is a devil incarnate. Man has a free will, which, according to the ordination of God, is in nowise bound, so that he can do all the evil that he wills; to the devil, this is impossible, since he can act only by the divine permission; and when man surrenders to him his evil will, the devil employs it, as the instrument of his temptation."

     And hence she said: "I see that whatever is good in myself, in any other creature, or in the saints, is truly from God; if, on the other hand, I do any thing evil, it is I alone who do it, nor can I charge the blame of it upon the devil or upon any other creature; it is purely the work of my own will, inclination, pride, selfishness, sensuality, and other evil dispositions, without the help of God I should never do any good thing. So sure am I of this, that if all the angels of heaven were to tell me I have something good in me, I should not believe them."

     This holy soul knew in what true perfection consists, and had, moreover a knowledge of all imperfections. There is nothing surprising in this, for her interior eye was enlightened, her affections purified, and her heart wholly united to God, her Love, in whom she saw things wonderful and hidden from human sense. She said, therefore: "So long as any one can speak of divine things, enjoy and understand them, remember and desire them, he has not yet arrived in port; yet there are ways and means to guide him thither. But the creature can know nothing but what God gives him to know from day to day, nor can he comprehend beyond this, and at each instant remains satisfied with what he receives. If the creature knew the height to which God is prepared to raise him in this life, he would never rest, but on the contrary would feel a certain craving, a vehement desire to reach quickly that ultimate perfection, and would think himself in hell until he had obtained it."

     Even at the beginning of her conversion, this holy and devout soul, inflamed with divine love, was wont to exclaim: "Oh! Lord, I desire thee wholly, for in thy clear and strong light I see that the soul can never be at peace until she has attained her last perfection. Oh, sweet Lord! if I believed that I should lose one spark of thee, I could no longer live." Again she said: "It appeared to me, as I noted from time to time, that the love wherewith I loved my sweet Love, grew greater day by day, and yet, at each step, I had thought it as perfect as it could be, for love has this property that it can never perceive in itself the least defect. But as my vision grew clearer, I beheld in myself many imperfections which, had I seen them in the beginning, I should have esteemed nothing, not even hell itself, too great or painful that would have rid me of them. In the beginning they were hidden from me, for it was the purpose of God to accomplish his work by little and little, in order to keep me humble, and enable me to remain among my fellow creatures. And finally, seeing a completed work entirely beyond the creature, I am compelled to say what before I could not say, and confess how clear it is to me that all our works are even more imperfect than any creature can fully understand."

     This holy creature was accustomed to use the words: "Sweetness of God; purity of God," and other beautiful expressions of the same kind. Sometimes she uttered expressions like these: "I see without eyes, hear without understanding, feel without feeling, and taste without tasting. I know neither form nor measure; for without seeing I yet behold an operation so divine that the words I first used, perfection, purity, and the like seem to me now mere lies in the presence of the truth. The sun which once looked so bright is now dark; what was sweet is now bitter, because sweetness and beauty are spoiled by contact with creatures. Nor can I any longer say: `My God, my All.' Everything is mine, for all that is God's seems to be wholly mine. Neither in heaven nor on earth shall I ever again use such words, for I am mute and lost in God. Nor can I call the saints blessed, nor the blessed holy, for I see that their sanctity and their beatitude is not theirs, but exists only in God. I see nothing good or blessed in any creature if it be not wholly annihilated and absorbed in God, so that he alone may remain in the creature and the creature in him.

     "This is the beatitude that the blessed might have, and yet they have it not, except in so far as they are dead to themselves and absorbed in God. They have it not in so far as they remain in themselves and can say: `I am blessed.' Words are wholly inadequate to express my meaning, and I reproach myself for using them. I would that every one could understand me, and I am sure that if I could breathe on creatures, the fire of love burning within me would inflame them all with divine desire. O thing most marvelous! So great is my love for God, that beside it all love for the neighbor seems only hypocrisy. I can no longer condescend to creatures, or if I do so, it is only with pain, for to me the world seems only to live in vanity."


How impossible it was for vain-glory to enter the mind of this holy creature. Of the light which hatred of self gave her, and of the value of our own actions.

     Vain-glory could never enter her mind, for she had seen the truth, and distrusting herself, placed her whole confidence in God, saying always: "Oh Lord! do with me what thou wilt." She had so little esteem of herself that it was pleasing to her to be reproved for any inclination she might have, nor did she ever excuse herself. So clear was the interior vision of that illuminated mind, and such deep things did she say concerning perfection that she could hardly be understood except by the most profound intellects. Among other things she said: "I would not wish to see one meritorious act attributed to myself, even if it were the means of insuring my salvation; for I should be worse than a demon, to wish to rob God of his own. Yet it is needful that we ourselves act, for the divine grace neither vivifies nor aids that which does not work itself, and grace will not save us without our cooperation. I repeat it; all works, without the help of grace are dead, being produced by the creature only; but grace aids all works performed by those who are not in mortal sin, and makes them worthy of heaven; not those which are ours solely, but those in which grace cooperates." So jealous was she for the glory of God, that she was wont to say: "If I could find any good in any creature, (which, however, is impossible) I would tear it from her, and restore it all to God."


Of the revelation she had concerning purity of conscience, and of the opposition of sin to God.

     Illuminated by a clear ray from the true light which shone into this holy soul she spoke admirable things concerning purity of conscience, saying: "Purity of conscience can endure nothing but God only; for he alone is spotless, simple, pure: of all things else, that is, of what is evil, it cannot endure even the smallest spark; this can neither be understood nor appreciated, if it be not felt." Hence she had ever in her mouth, as a habit, this word Purity: she had also a cleanliness and purity most admirable in her speech. She wished that every conception and emotion of the mind should issue to from it undefiled and pure, without the least complexity, and thus it was impossible for her to feign a sympathy she did not feel, or to condole with others out of friendship, except so far as she really corresponded with them in her heart. The continual humility, contempt, and hatred of self, in this soul were at this time most remarkable. When, by the divine permission, she suffered such mental distress that she could scarcely open her mouth, she would then say: "Oh, Love! let me remain thus, that I may be submissive; for otherwise it would be impossible that I should not do something wrong. Oh, how good and admirable is the knowledge of a soul, which, being all protected, united, and transformed in God, her felicity, sees clearly, on one side, her own inclination to all that is evil, and on the other, how she is restrained by God, that she may not commit actual sin! One thing is certain; namely, that never is the soul so perfect that it does not need the continual help of God, even though it be transformed in him. It is true, that the nature of the sweet God is such, that he never allows these souls to fall, although the soul, left to herself, could fall if she were not thus restrained. But he only preserves those who never with their free will consent unto sin; and allows those to fall who do voluntarily yield assent thereto; for truly, having given us free will, he will not force it. Consequently, those who fall into sin do so by their own fault, and not by that of God, who is ever ready to aid the soul even after her fall, if she will allow herself to be aided, and will correspond to the divine grace which never ceases to call her, saying: `Turn from evil and do good, and be converted to me with your whole heart.'"

     And therefore she said: "If the soul, fallen into what sins soever, corresponds to the grace of God and abhors her past sins, with a resolution and a will to sin no more, he immediately frees her from her guilt, and holds her so that she may not fall, nor through her own malice be separated from him, that is, from the observance of his commandments which are his will; to sin voluntarily, is to be separated from God. And not only is he ready, on his own part to do all this, but I see clearly with the interior eye, that the sweet God loves with a pure love the creature that he has created, and has a hatred for nothing but sin, which is more opposed to him than can be thought or imagined. I say, God loves his creature with a perfection that cannot be understood, nor could it be even by an angelic intellect which would fail to comprehend even its slightest spark. And if God wished to make a soul understand, it would be necessary to give her an immortal body, since by nature it could never endure the knowledge. For it is impossible that God and sin, however slight, should remain together, for such an impediment would prevent the soul from attaining to his glory. And as a little thing that thou hast in thine eye will not allow thee to see the sun, and as it is possible to compare the difference between God and the sun to that between the intellectual vision and that of the bodily eye, it is plain that the great opposition between the one and the other can never be truly imagined.

     "Wherefore, it is necessary that the soul which desires to be preserved from sin in this life, and to glorify God in the other, should be spotless, pure, and simple, and not voluntarily retain a single thing which is not purged by contrition, confession and satisfaction, because all our works are imperfect and defective. Whence, if I consider and observe clearly, with the interior eye, I see that I ought to live entirely detached from self; Love has wished me to understand this, and in a manner I do understand it, so that I could not possibly be deceived; and for my part I have so abandoned myself, that I can regard it only as a demon, or worse, if I may so say."

     "After God has given a soul the light in which she perceives the truth that she cannot even will, and much less work, apart from him, without always soiling and making turbid the clear waters of his grace, then she sacrifices all to him, and he takes possession of his creature, and both inwardly and outwardly occupies her with himself, so that she can do nothing but as her sweet Love wills. Then the soul, by reason of its union with God, contradicts Him in nothing, nor does aught but what is pure, upright, gentle, sweet, and delightful, because God allows nothing to molest it. And these are the works which please the Lord our God."


Of the great and solicitous care which God operates in divers ways in order to attract the soul to himself, so that he seems to be in a manner our servant.--Of the blindness of man.--Of the many ways in which he is deceived by his own self-will.

     "I see that the sweet God is so solicitous for the welfare of the soul, that no human being could have a like anxiety to gain the whole world even if he were certain to obtain it by his efforts; when behold the love he displays in providing us with all possible aids to lead us into heaven, I am, as it were, forced to say that this sweet Master appears as if he were our servant. If man could see the care which God takes of a soul, nothing more would be necessary to amaze and confound him than to consider that this glorious God, in whom all things have their being, should have so great a providence over his creatures; yet we, to whom it is a matter either of salvation or damnation, hold it in light esteem."

     "But alas! how can this be so? If we esteem not that which God esteems, what else should we esteem? O wretched man, where dost thou lose thyself? What dost thou with that time, so precious, of which thou hast such need? What with those goods with which thou shouldst buy Paradise? What with thy body, which was given thee to work for and to serve thy soul? What with thy soul, whose end is to be united to God by love? All these thou hast turned towards earth, which produces a seed whose fruits thou wilt eat with the demons in hell with infinite despair, because, having lost that glory for which thou wert created, and to which so many inspirations called thee, thou wilt then see that thou hast failed to secure it through thine own fault alone.

     "Know for a certainty that if men understood how terrible is even one solitary sin, they would rather be cast into a heated furnace, and there remain, living both in soul and body, than to support such a sight. And if the sea were all fire they would cast themselves therein and never leave it, if they were certain of meeting the sin on doing so." To many this will appear a strange saying, but to the saint these things had been shown as in truth they were, and such a comparison seemed to her but a trifling one; she added:

     "It has happened to me to behold something almost too shameful to relate, and this is that man seems to live quite merrily in sin; it astonishes me that a thing so terrible should receive so little consideration." She said again: "When I see and contemplate what God is, and what our own misery is, and behold the many ways by which he seeks to exalt us, I am transported beyond myself with astonishment. On the part of man, I see such a perversity and rebellion against God, that it seems impossible to bend his will except by the lure of things greater than those he enjoys here in this life. This is because the soul loves visible things, and will not renounce one but with the hope of four. And even with this hope, she would still seek to escape, if God did not retain her by his exterior and interior graces, without which man, whose instincts are naturally corrupt, could not be saved; for we are naturally corrupt, could not be saved; for we are naturally prone to add actual to original sin, and to continually tend toward earth for our satisfactions. And as Adam opposed his own will to the divine will, so we must seek to have the will of God as our only object, and by it to have our own disposed and annihilated. And as we cannot by ourselves discover our own evil inclinations, and our secret self-love, nor possibly annihilate our own self-will, it is very useful to subject our will to that of some other creature, and to do its bidding for the love of God. And the more we so subject ourselves for that divine love, so much the more shall we emancipate ourselves from that evil plague of our self-will which is so subtle and hidden within us, and works in so many ways, and defends itself by so many pleas that it is like the very demon. What it cannot effect in one way, it does in another, and this under many disguises. Now it is known as charity, now as necessity, justice, perfection, or suffering for God, or seeking for spiritual consolation, or for health, or as a good example to others, or a condescension to those who seek our advantage. It is an abyss, so deep and dangerous, that no one but God can save us from it. And as he sees this more clearly than we, he has great compassion for us, and never ceases to send us good inspirations and to seek to liberate us, not by forcing our free-will, but rather by disposing us in so many loving ways, that the soul, when she comes to understand the great care which God has taken of her, is forced to exclaim: `O my God, it appears to me that thou hast nothing else to think of but my salvation! What am I that thou shouldst so care for me? Thou art God who thus carest for me, and I am nothing but myself. Can it be possible that I should not esteem what thou esteemest? that I should not remain ever obedient to thy commandments, and attentive to all the gracious inspirations thou sendest me by so many ways?'"


How she sees the source of goodness is in God, and how creatures participate in it.

     "I saw," said she, "a sight which greatly consoled me. I was shown the living source of goodness in God, as it was when yet alone and unparticipated in by any creature. Then I saw it begin to communicate itself to the creatures, and it did so to the fair company of angels, in order to give them the fruition of its own ineffable glory, demanding no other return from them than that they should recognize themselves as creatures, created by the supreme goodness, and having their being wholly from God, apart from whom all things are reduced to pure nonentity. The same must be said of the soul, which also was created immortal, that it might attain to beatitude; for if there were no immortality there could be no happiness. And because the angels were incapable of annihilation, therefore when their pride and disobedience robed them in the vesture of sin, God deprived them of that participation in his goodness, which, by his grace, he had ordained to give them: hence they remained so infernal and terrible that none, even of those who are specially enlightened by God, can possibly conceive their degradation. He did not, however, subtract all his mercy from them, for had he done so, they would be still more malicious, and would have a hell as infinitely immense in torture as it is in duration.

     "God also is patient with man, his creature, while he remains in this world (although in sin), supporting him by his goodness, by which we are either tortured, or enabled to endure joyfully all grievous things, accordingly as he wishes to impart more or less to us. Of this goodness we sinners participate in this life, because God knows our flesh, which is the occasion of so much ignorance and weakness; and, therefore, while we are in this present life, he bears patiently with us, and allures us to him by hidden communications of his bounty: but, should we die in mortal sin (which God forbid), then he would deprive us of his mercy, and leave us to ourselves; yet not altogether so, because in every place he wills that his mercy shall accompany his justice. And were it possible to find a creature which in no degree participated in the divine goodness, it would be almost as bad as God is good.

     "This I say, because God showed me somewhat of his truth, in order that I might know what man is without him; that is, when the soul is found in mortal sin, at that time, it is so monstrous and horrible to behold, that it is impossible to imagine anything equally so.

     "No one need be surprised at this which I say and feel, namely, that I can no longer live in myself, that I am with a single motion of my own proper will, intellect, or memory. Wherefore, whether I speak, walk, remain quiet, sleep, eat, or do anything else, as if from my own proper self, I do not feel or know it. All these things are so far removed from me, that is, from the interior of my heart, that the distance is like that between heaven and earth; and if any of these things could by any mode enter into me, and give me such an enjoyment as ordinarily they produce, without doubt, I should be filled with misery, for I should feel it to be a retrogression from that which had formerly been shown me, and that it ought to have been destroyed. In this manner, all my natural inclinations, both of soul and body, are being consumed; and I know it to be necessary that all that is ours should waste away until nothing of it can be found; this is on account of its malignity, which nothing is able to overcome but the infinite goodness of God; and if it be not hidden and consumed, it will never be possible for us to be freed from this goad which is more than infernal, and which, so far as we are concerned, I behold to grow more horrible daily, so that one who was interiorly enlightened, yet had no confidence in God, would be driven to despair by the sight; so dreadful are we when compared to God, who, with great love and solicitude, continually seeks to aid us."

     It was still further shown to her in spirit how all the works of men (especially those which are spiritual), without the aid of supernatural grace, remain near God, without fruit, and are of little or no value. She saw also that God never fails to knock at the heart of man in order to enter therein and justify his works, and that none can ever complain that he was not called, for God is ever knocking, and not more at the hearts of the good than at those of the evil.


How she was entirely transformed in God, and hated to say me or mine.--What pride is.--Of the error of man who seeks for plenty and happiness on earth, where they cannot be found.--What a misfortune it is to be without love.

     And continuing her discourse, she said: "I have always seen, and I am ever seeing more and more clearly, that there is no good except in God, and that all lesser goods which can be found are such only by participation; but pure and simple love cannot desire to receive from God anything, however good it may be, which is merely a good of participation, because God wishes it to be as pure, great, and simple as he is himself, and if the least thing were wanting to this perfection, love could not be contented, but would suffer as if in hell. And therefore I say that I cannot desire any created love, that is, love which can be felt, enjoyed, or understood. I do not wish love that can pass through the intellect, memory, or will; because pure love passes all these things and transcends them." She said also:

     "I shall never rest until I am hidden and enclosed in that divine heart wherein all created forms are lost, and, so lost, remain thereafter all divine; nothing else can satisfy true, pure, and simple love. Therefore I have resolved so long as I live to say always to the world that it may do with my exterior as it wills, but with my interior this cannot be allowed, because it cannot, it will not occupy itself except in God, nor could it possibly wish to do otherwise, for he has locked it up within himself and will discover it to no one.

     "Knowing that with all his power he is continually striving to annihilate this humanity, his creature, both inwardly and outwardly, in order that when it is entirely destroyed, the soul may issue with him from the body and thus united ascend to heaven; in my soul, therefore, I can see no one but God, since I suffer no one else to enter there, and myself less than any other, because I am my own worst enemy."

     "If, however, it happens to be necessary to speak of myself, I do so on account of the world, which would not understand me should I name myself otherwise than as men are named, yet inwardly I say: my self is God, nor is any other self known to me except my God.

     "And likewise when I speak of being, I say: all things which have being, have it from the essence of God by his participation: but pure love cannot stop to contemplate this general participation coming from God, nor to consider whether in itself, considered as a creature, it receives it in the same way as do the other creatures which more or less participate with God. Pure love cannot endure such comparison; on the contrary, it exclaims with a great impetus of love; my being is God, not by participation only but by a true transformation and annihilation of my proper being.

     "Now take an example: the elements are not capable of transformation, for it is their nature to remain fixed, and, because this is the law of their being, they have not free-will, and it is impossible for them to vary from their original state. But every one who desires to remain firm in his own mind must have God as his chief end, who arrests every creature at that end for which he has created it, otherwise it would be impossible to detain it; it is insatiable until it has reached its true centre, which is God himself.

     "Now although man is created for the possession of happiness, yet, having deviated from his true end, his nature has become deformed and is entirely repugnant to true beatitude. And on this account we are forced to submit to God this depraved nature of ours which fills our understanding with so many occupations, and causes us to deviate from the true path, in order that he may entirely consume it until nothing remains there but himself; otherwise the soul could never attain stability nor repose, for she was created for no other end.

     "Therefore, whenever God can do so, he attracts the free-will of man by sweet allurements, and afterwards disposes it in such a manner that all things may conduce to the annihilation of man's proper being. So that in God is my being, my me, my strength, my beatitude, my good, and my delight. I say mine at present because it is not possible to speak otherwise; but I do not mean by it any such thing as me or mine, or delight or good, or strength or stability, or beatitude; nor could I possibly turn my eyes to behold such things in heaven or in earth; and if, notwithstanding, I sometimes use words which may have the likeness of humility and of spirituality, in my interior I do not understand them, I do not feel them. In truth it astonishes me that I speak at all, or use words so far removed from the truth and from that which I feel. I see clearly that man in this world deceives himself by admiring and esteeming things which are not, and neither sees nor esteems the things which are. Listen to what Fra Giacopone says about this in one of his lauds, that one which commences: O love of poverty. He says: What appears to thee, is not, so great is that which is; pride is in heaven; humility condemns itself. He says what appears, that is, all things visible and created are not and have no true being in themselves; so great is that which is, namely God, in whom is all true being. Pride is in heaven; that is, the true greatness is in heaven and not on earth; humility condemns itself, that is, the affections placed on things created which are humble and vile, not having in themselves any true being.

     "But let us consider more attentively this matter namely this human blindness which takes white for black and holds pride for humility and humility for pride, and from which springs the perverse judgment which is the cause of all confusion. Let us see what pride may be. I say, according to what I see with the interior eye, pride is nothing else but an elevation of the mind to things which surpass man and are above his dignity, and whenever man abandons that which is, and which knows, and which is powerful, for that which in truth has neither existence, knowledge, nor power, this is not pride.

     "This degrades him, and it generates that pride accompanied by presumption, self-esteem, and arrogance which occasions so many sins against charity for the neighbor; for man believes himself to be such as he appears in his disordered mind which is so full of miseries. Therefore God says to this proud man: If thou seekest, according to the nature of the created soul, for such great things as seem at present to be good and for that happiness which belongs to earth, know that they are not, they cannot satisfy nor afford contentment seek rather in heaven, where pride is lawful, and where it is not placed in things empty and vain, but in those which are really great, which always remain and which cause a sinless pride; but if thou seekest after worthless things thou shalt never find them and shalt lost those which thou shouldst have sought.

     "If man's eyes were pure, he would see clearly that things which pass away so quickly as do those which in this world are esteemed beautiful, good, and useful, could not truly be said to be so, such words being suitable only for things which have no end. Hence, man, if he prides himself upon temporal things, becomes unable to attain those that are celestial and eternal, degenerates into a vile and humble creature whose greatness is lost and who is degraded to the condition of the things he has always sought. Think, alas, what will become of this spirit so generous, created for the highest dignity and felicity, when it is immersed in the vile filth of its own depraved desires and held by its own demerits in abominations which will ever grow worse, but which will never end and which have no remedy? Alas! what pain, what anguish, and what desperate tears shall then be to this poor soul!

     "We see and know by experience that only two causes could enable the spirit to remain in a place of torture: one of these is force, and the other the hope of a great reward for such endurance. What despair then will not man suffer when the force which detains him in hell shall never cease, and the pain shall have no remuneration? It is certain that our spirit was created for love and for felicity and this is what it is constantly seeking in all things; it can never find satiety in temporal things and yet is ever hoping that it may there attain it. Finally it deceives itself and loses that time which is so precious, and which was given it that it might seek God, the supreme good, in whom may be found the true love and the holy satisfaction which should be its true satiety and full repose. But what will it do in the end, when, having lost all its occupations, and discovered all its illusions and its vain hopes, and lost all its time, it remains deprived of every good, and, though contrary to its nature, must forever remain forcibly deprived of all love and felicity? This one thing alone is so painful and terrible to contemplate that to speak of it makes me tremble with fear.

     "By this I comprehend what hell and heaven may be, because, as I see that man by love becomes one with God, in whom he finds all happiness, so, on the contrary I see that, deprived of love he remains as full of woes as he would have of joys (and that is infinitely) if he had not been so mad. Therefore, although we hear it said that hell is a great punishment, yet this does not appear to me to express it, nor can its gravity be truly told or comprehended, neither could it be represented to one as I understand it; only by the greatness of love in, the true and omnipotent God, can that which is opposed to it be measured.

     "When I consider the blindness of those who, for the sake of things so vile and little, allow themselves to be stupidly led away into the abyss of such horrible and infinite woe, all that is within me is moved by a great compassion. In this connection I recall a possessed person who was forced by a religious to declare who he was: he cried out with great force: `I am that wretch who is deprived of love.' He said this with a voice so piteous and penetrating that inwardly I was filled with pity, especially when I was hearing those words, Deprived of love."


How contrary to pure love is even the slightest imperfection.--Of the many means by which God ministers to our salvation.--At the point of death we shall esteem the opposition made to the divine inspirations as worse than hell itself.

     "I see clearly," said our saint, "that when pure love sees even the least imperfection in man, if the mercy of God did not sustain it, it would grind into powder not only the body, but even the soul itself, were it not immortal, knowing that so long as it is retained he must be deprived of love. I see that the cause of all these evils is that we are so blinded by the enormity of our sins that it is impossible to comprehend, as we should, the extremity of our misery, which is yet supremely necessary for us to know. When man is reduced to his last agony--and in that hour all joys flee from him and all evils present themselves without a remedy--I cannot find words to express the great pain and anguish which will then overwhelm his soul, and therefore I am silent.

     "O unhappy man, in that hour wilt see how much more solicitous God has been for thy salvation than thou hast been thyself! Then thy whole life will pass before thine eyes, with all its opportunities for well-doing and all its rejected inspirations, and in one instant thou wilt clearly see the whole. Believest thou that thy soul must still live when it passes from such injustice into the presence of true justice? It is not possible for me to dwell upon this thought, for I find it so painful; I am constrained to cry out, Beware, beware, for the matter is of such infinite importance. If I thought I should be understood I would never say aught else. When I see men die as the beasts die, without fear, without light, without grace, and know how serious a thing this is, I should suffer for my neighbor the greatest pains that I could ever feel, if God did not sustain me. And when I hear it said that God is good and he will pardon us, and then see that men cease not from evil-doing, oh, how it grieves me! The infinite goodness with which God communicates with us, sinners as we are, should constantly make us love and serve him better; but we, on the contrary, instead of seeing in his goodness an obligation to please him, convert it into an excuse for sin which will of a certainty lead in the end to our deeper condemnation.

     "I see that God, so long as man remains in this life, uses all the ways of mercy for his salvation, and gives him all the graces necessary to that end, like a benignant and most clement father who knows only how to do us good; and especially he does so in enduring our sins, which in his sight are so very great that if unsustained by his goodness, man would be ground into powder by them.

     "But man does not comprehend this, and God graciously awaits and bears with him until his death; then he resorts to justice, although not even then is it unmixed with mercy, since in hell man does not suffer according to his deserts, yet woe be to him who falls therein, for truly he suffers greatly. And when I see man fix his affections on creatures, even, as he sometimes does, on a dog or a cat, or any other created thing, delighting greatly in it, doing all that he can to serve it, unable to admit into his heart any other love, and as it were, breathing by it, I long to exterminate these things which hold him thus employed and cause him to lose the great reward of the love of God which alone can satisfy and make him happy.

     "Alas, this one word I will say about the just and holy ordinance of God, although I know not whether it will be understood. God has ordained man for beatitude, and that with more love than can possible be conceived, and all proper means to this result he gives him with infinite charity, perfection, and purity, so that man does not lose the least atom that is justly his; and, notwithstanding how many sins he may have committed, God never ceases to send him all needful inspirations, admonitions, and chastisements to lead him to that degree of happiness for which he created him with such heartfelt love. And he does this in such a way that when man shall behold it after his death, he will well understand that he never suffered himself to be led by the divine goodness, and that he has lost God solely through his own fault. Then the opposition he has made to such divine goodness will torture him more than hell itself; because all the pains of hell, however great they may be, are as nothing in comparison to the privation of the beatific vision which is caused by their own resistance.

     "This is proved by divine love, which says that it esteems the smallest imperfection a greater evil than any hell that can be imagined. What, then, shall be said of that soul which in all things finds itself opposed to the divine ordinations, except that infinite woe awaits it, infinite tribulations, dolors, and afflictions, without remedy, without consolation, and without end, and that it shall be plunged in profound humiliation and infernal gloom."


That she understood her own nothingness, and therefore would not speak about herself.--Of her great faith in God.--How willful and malicious we are in ourselves, and how necessary it is to abandon all to God.

     So great was the humility of this holy soul that she saw her own nothingness most clearly, and would never speak of herself, neither well nor ill. She said:

     "As to the evil, I know well that is all my own, the good I could not possibly do of myself, for nothing cannot produce something." Nor would she speak, as is customary, of being wicked, lest her lower nature might grow confident and presume upon the knowledge of its incapacity for good: and having such an opinion of herself, instead of desiring the esteem of others, she cut away even the root of presumption, saying:

     "I will never say anything about myself, either good or bad, lest I should come to esteem myself of some importance: and when I have sometimes heard myself spoken of by others, especially if I were praised, I have said inwardly: `If you knew what I am within, you would not speak thus.' And then, turning to myself, I say: `When thou hearest thyself named, or listenest to words which perhaps may seem to praise thee, know that they are not spoken of what is thine; for the only virtue and glory thou hast belong to God, and thou hast at least in thine earthly and carnal nature no more conformity with good than has the demon; but when evil is spoken of thee, remember that all could not be said which is in reality true; thou art unworthy even to be called worthless, because to speak of thee at all lends thee a fictitious value.'"

     Hence, knowing herself, all the confidence of this great soul was in God, in whom she was so grounded and established that it was hardly to be called faith, for she saw herself more secure in the hands of God, her Love, than if she were actually in possession of all the goods and felicities which it is possible to desire or to think of having in this world; and having placed all her trust in God, and given him full control of her, she covered herself under the mantle of his providential care.

     She became such an enemy to herself that nothing but necessity ever caused her to speak of herself at all, and she would never do so in particular but would generally say us; and she said: "The evil nature of man is pleased with being mentioned, and the greatest blow that can be given it is never to speak of it at all, and never make it of any account; therefore do not willingly name it in any manner." And to her own nature she said: "I know thee and rate thee as thou deservest: thou canst not advocate thy cause with me." And if an angel had come to say a word in favor of herself, she would not have believed him, so certain was she of her own malignity.

     And, having this clear knowledge of herself, she was constrained by it to accept with resignation whatever might befall either her body or her soul, so that whenever she found in herself any defect or any pain, she would say quickly: "These things are caused solely by my own evil nature, and of this I am so certain that I know not how I could produce other fruits than these which are so hateful. I never could do so if God did not assist me. But I know well, having been shown by God the imperfections and malignity of our own inclination, that we can never, except by the help of divine grace, do anything but evil. Good is as hopeless to us as to the demons, and even more so, for, unlike them, we have a body and a free-will which ally themselves to our depravity and do all the evil they can, which is more or less accordingly as God abandons us to our own control.

     "But, for one who desires to approach God, it is necessary to become the enemy of his enemies; and, as I find nothing that is worse than myself, nor that is more inimical to him, I am compelled to hold myself in more aversion than anything else whatever, and will even despise myself and count it to be worthless. And, on the other hand, I will detach my spirit from all the goods of both this world and the other, which I will henceforth regard as if they had no existence. I have implored God neither to suffer me to rejoice interiorly nor to grieve over any created thing, so that I may never be seen to shed a single tear. And I have begged him to take away from me the freedom of my will, so that I may no longer do what pleases me, but only what is according to his pleasure: all these things I have obtained from his clemency.

     "Now, seeing me thus determined, my self said to me: `Grant me, at least, the consolation of not hearing myself thus spoken of: for, whatever I am, it is necessary that I should exist in some manner. There is no creature which is not suitably provided for according to its needs, and I also am one of God's creatures.' Then the spirit rose up and answered: `Thou art indeed a creature of God, but thou art not according to God, and if thou wishest to be so thou must be first despoiled of all thou hast previously acquired, first by original sin and afterwards by the actual sins which thou hast freely multiplied, and which are more odious in the sight of God than thou couldst believe were it told thee. And when I see thee more covered with secret sins than a cat is with hairs, I know not where thou findest courage to say that thou art of God. If I were so mad as to feed thee according to thy inclinations, which are so corrupt and contrary to the purity which God requires, I should do two evil and perilous things: one is that I should never satisfy thee, and the other that thou wouldst every day grow stronger and wound me more and more acutely; and as I am myself full of evil, thou wouldst attack me secretly and in an apparently spiritual manner, and then no one but God could overcome thee. Speak to me no more of thy crafty designs, for I have determined to disregard thee.

     "'Recommend thyself to God that he may aid thee, and I also will assist thee by his help. Moreover, I will pray him to consume all thy perverse inclinations and to restore thee again to that primitive innocence in which he created thee, for otherwise thou canst never be satisfied: no one can satiate thee but he who created thee and who alone knows all thy secret desires and can grant them without difficulty. Cease, then, to seek for other satisfactions, for however abundant may be thy possessions thou wilt still remain poor and in want; when once thou art justified, all will be given thee which heaven and earth can afford.

     "Know then that I despise thee and would rather choose to be condemned to hell without thee, than to possess God through thy means. For a pure mind cannot suffer anything to come between itself and God, for it desires to possess him entirely and to be as pure and simple as he is himself. And this being so, how could it endure to be assisted by thee who art so hideous, and who would always glorify thyself unworthily over thy achievements? And although I know that such a thing could never be, it fills me with indignation to find that I have even imagined it or that any mind should ever conceive it possible!'

     "Thus scorned, my self knew not what to answer, and never more had courage to assert itself: it no longer looked either at the body or the soul, toward heaven or toward earth; but I saw it remain always by itself with all its malicious inclinations, and had God permitted it, it would have done more evil against him than Lucifer himself. Yet, as I saw that God continually restrained it, this sight gave me no uneasiness, nor did it ever cause me any torment or suffering. Rather was the effect directly contrary, for he who loves justice is rejoiced when robbers are punished, and surely he who, being evil by nature, desires to become good by his own efforts, is a robber worthy to be punished in hell-fire.

     "Hence, when I saw its malignant inclinations entirely subjected to God and by him executed and annihilated, I was greatly contented, and the more clearly I saw my own proper wickedness, so much the greater pleasure did I take in his justice. And truly, it appears to me that if I could fear anything it would be my own self--which is utterly evil; yet when I saw it in the hands of God I abandoned it to him with confidence, and never since then have I felt any fear concerning it; rather, I may say, that I never think about it and make no more account of it than if it in no way concerned me.

     "I saw others weeping over their perversities and their evil desires, and forcing themselves to resist them; yet, the more they strove to remedy their defects the more often did they fall. And when any one spoke of this to me, I answered `You have woes and you weep over them, and I have them and I do not weep. You do evil and you lament, and I should do the same if the almighty God did not assist me. You cannot defend yourself, nor can I do so either; hence it is necessary that we should yield ourselves to him who only can deliver us from evil, and he will do for us what is wholly beyond our power. And in this way we shall find rest from this our evil self, which is always torturing itself to its own destruction: yet when it is imprisoned by God, it remains submissive and in silence."


In what manner God deals with one who corresponds with him.--And how the saint abhorred spiritual delights, and how God cast around her the chain of pure love.

     This holy woman said that when God disposes a soul to correspond to him with her free will by placing herself wholly in his hands, he leads her to every perfection; thus has he dealt with one who, after she was thus called, never more followed her own will, but always stood waiting interiorly upon the will of God, which she so confidently felt to be impressed upon her mind that she sometimes said to him: "In all that I think, speak, or do, I trust in thee that thou wilt not permit me to offend thee."

     The following rule with regard to the intellect was given to this soul, namely: never to attempt to understand anything in heaven or on earth and, least of all, the spiritual operations in her self; and she obeyed so implicitly that she never more observed curiously anything in herself or in others.

     If it were asked in what manner the intellectual powers were employed, I should answer that all the powers of the soul were always under the command and in the service of God, and when anything had to be done, at that instant, and in so far as necessity required, it was given her to know what she should do, and then the door was closed.

     Of the memory she could give no account, for it seemed as if she were without memory and without intellect. This was not caused by any voluntary act of hers, but was the result of seeing herself so often and so suddenly moved to action, that she easily comprehended that it was God who was operating in her, and she remained occupied in him, and lost to all sense of time or place and without the will or the ability to do otherwise, except when God suddenly effected some change in her. Nor was she ever able to consider anything except what God at the moment proposed to her; in this manner she was attentive to whatever she was doing so long as necessity required, but when it was finished all memory of it passed with it.

     The same thing was true of her affections, which were taken from her by her Love even at the beginning, and in such a way that she could no longer love anything created or uncreated, not even God himself, at least as he was revealed in those sentiments, in visions, delights, and spiritual correspondences which all others who beheld them estimated so highly, but which she on the contrary held in horror and sought to fly from. But the more she sought to avoid them the more were they given to her, and they increased in such a manner that her body was often entirely prostrated by them. Her soul, however, remained pure and serene, as if it were passed beyond such violence, and were filled with divine sweetness. And when this was over, she seemed to be improved both in mind and body. Yet she had no desire for such improvement, and sought for nothing but God, her Love, in comparison with whom she rejected all, even that which proceeded from him, as being of less value, or indeed as nothing.

     This integrity of the will she held so cautiously and was always so hidden in God that no illusion, imagination or inspiration could interpose between them, nor even any truth which was not immediately from him.

     Therefore when God took from her the burden and the care of herself, her spirit found itself all light and able to do great things, and the instinct of love which God gave it when it was thus separated from her proper self, was so swift and great and powerful that she could satisfy it nowhere but in God. Then God, seeing her so disposed and well prepared, cast down from heaven one end of the cord of his most upright, pure, and holy love, and with it held her so closely occupied in him that she readily understood that she sprang from him and corresponded with him. Yet, in all this her humanity had no share, and neither felt, saw nor understood it.

     Thus she allowed this clear water to flow descending as from a living fountain; and by means of her love and of her great purity she saw every little defect which to her appeared offensive: and if it had been possible for her to tell the great importance of every least impediment to the divine love, even hearts of adamant would have been ground into powder by fear of them.

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