Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/226

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CATASTROPHE


about, and at a wilderness of abandoned gardens. Charles IV also came to Rome so that his wife could be crowned, but the Empire headed by this merchant had squeezed too much money out of the land to make possible the thought of giving aid to the Pope. The attacks on Urban's wealth and temporal power continued, and the unfortunate stranger was once more driven back to the Rhone. Dur- ing the same year he died with the cross upon his breast, shaken with remorse over the fact that he had gone back to Avignon. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of St. Brigitta, who had urged him to remain. It was not until the election of Gregory XI (1370-1378) , a French Pope, that the Apostolic See could once again be erected beside the graves of the Apostles and remain there. He saw that everything was lost if he stayed in Avignon any longer. The most difficult struggle he had to face was with Florence, for this ancient Guelph Republic raised the banner of the Italian national spirit against the French leadership of the Church and against the rule of strangers within its own boundaries. It assumed the leadership of a league of cities formed to combat all tyrants. Gregory imposed the gravest ecclesiastical penalties on Florence and at last sent an army against the urban league. Robert of Geneva, Cardinal and handsome soldier, took command of his Breton mercenaries, and heaped cruelty on cruelty. As a result of the blood-bath with which he avenged a desperate rebellion of the citizens of Cesana, there was lifted no praise in honour of the returning viceroy of Jesus Christ.

In older to bring about peace with Florence, Catherine Benincasa o Siena, daughter of a dyer, had summoned up all the fervour and power of her ecstatic souL Like Joan d'Arc, this Saint unfolded a political activity based on mystical impulses. She was a master of both effective speech and a powerful epistolary style, and exercised a profound influence upon the life of her time. Though she could not induce Florence to make peace, she did rouse the conscience of the Pope in the palace of Avignon. Toward the close of 1376 he left and landed in Ostia, sighing over the bleak impression made upon him by the shores to which he had come. That evening the Romans appeared in large numbers, gave him dominion over their city, and paid homage to him with torch dances and the blare of trumpets. A galley brought him up the Tiber to St. Paul's. Here he cast anchor and spent the


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