St. Catherine's Network

An Interactive Map

Network visualization is a tool that is taking the history world by storm. It allows the researcher to see new patterns and connections that would otherwise go unseen.

Below is the interactive visualization graph of Catherine’s network, created by synthesizing numerous sources. A network is composed of nodes and edges. Nodes are the actors; in this graph, the nodes are the circles, one for each person in Catherine’s network. Edges are what connect nodes. This interactive map uses both edges and nodes to display Catherine’s network.

This network represents Catherine's network as she connected with the individuals. The purpose is to showcase who she met and how she met them. Over her lifetime, her companions all became connected and some developed deep relationships. This graph is meant to showcase how each individual was connected to others before the companions started to blend together into one cohesive group.

Play with the map! Hover your mouse over the nodes and see easily who was connected to whom. Want more information? Click on the nodes to see a sidebar appear with additional information on the individual. For each node, a URL is attached that will direct you to a page describing who that person is and (sometimes) analyzing the person’s relationship with Catherine.

The green nodes indicate a female, the purple nodes indicate a male, the blue nodes indicate governmental bodies, and the dark green nodes indicate a religious order.

Feel free to play with the map, zoom in, make your own observations, see my initial observations below the graph, and embrace the world of Catherine!


General Observations from Gephi Graph

    Based on the above graph, I came up with these observations of Catherine's network. I did this by playing with the graph, highlighting individuals to see who they were connected with, making note of nodes I expected to be large, and those I expected to be small. This led to some interesting conclusions that did not always follow what I thought I would find.

  • Within the network are ‘groups’ of individuals that all center around a town. Naturally, all the Florentines are connected to the Florentines and the Sienese know the Sienese, but interestingly, these groups do not connect with each other. They remain separated, with limited connections to each other. Evidence after Catherine’s death suggests that these groups never integrated completely as the men do not interact with one another.

  • The main male followers are all connected to either a noble family or government structure. As Thomas Luongo points out, many of Catherine’s followers are connected politically, but he did not include the minor characters in her life. Almost every single person in her network is connected to a political entity or noble family. This furthers the notion that Catherine had serious connections to help her succeed in the political world that then helped canonize her after death.

  • Raymond is not well connected to Catherine’s world but rather a difference political world (not viewed on my chart).The most interesting observation resulting in my visualization is the lack of connections Raymond of Capua had within the network. Catherine’s history is accredited to Raymond because he wrote her hagiography and is credited as the man who made Catherine’s career. He was well connected within the Dominican world, but in relation to Catherine’s world, he is alone. It begs the question of how important Raymond was to Catherine while she was alive? Without a question, he was crucial in her post-mortem life and legacy, writing her life and advocating for her canonization, but during her life, did he only provide spiritual authority.

  • Her Dominican followers are not well connected, they were used more as a spiritual support. Catherine created a spiritual support group in Siena before 1374, the year historians argue, “she went public”. Her Dominican followers are not politically connected, which suggests that in the very beginning Catherine may not have intended to become a political powerhouse.

  • Pope Gregory XI’s node is quite small. Pope Gregory is known due to his legacy of returning the papacy to Rome, heeding Catherine’s advice. However, in relation to Catherine’s created network, he does not have many connections. This is due to different political worlds, but interesting that he had no connections to any of her Florentine companions because of the numerous interdicts and the rebellions of Florence during this time.

  • Catherine’s mother, Monna Lapa, is a much larger node than I was anticipating. However, I do not think it is due to any significant political sway she may have had. Monna Lapa is connected to numerous family members and the Mantellate women of Siena, producing a large number of connections for her.

  • Before creating this network, I always assumed Tommaso dalla Fonte was simply a cousin and confessor to Catherine. However, he is connected to the Dodici, the leading government in Siena before 1372, which implies that the political influence on Catherine may have started much earlier than historians typically assert. Not only is he biological family to Catherine, but he was her first confessor, which implies that her early spiritual journey could have been molded by Tommaso in more ways than history presents. His involvement with the government may also have seeped into her spiritual upbringing. See my article for a deeper analysis of this connection.