Mary Catherine Hilkert is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination. This paperback is the text of the 2001 Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality, sponsored by the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana. The focus is upon the life and work of Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), a mystic, theologian, teacher, and religious activist.

Hilkert sees this extraordinary fourteenth century woman as a "companion in hope" for all those who yearn for justice, gender equality, peace, and spiritual renewal. The author is convinced that Catherine of Siena located "the source of her authority, not in official commissioning by the church or the pope, but rather in her commission by the Creator and her participation in the redemptive sufferings of Christ." Despite the fact that she was publicly criticized for her outspokenness and her travel, this whirlwind continued in her vocation to "speak the truth with love."

Listing to the voice of Wisdom, Catherine came up with images of God as one who waits on us at table and who nurses us at her breast. In sum, this fourteenth-century saint models for us the qualities that keep faith fresh and vital — freedom, boldness, peacemaking, and servanthood. Christian feminism owes her a great debt of gratitude.