Grazia Mangano Ragazzi offers an in-depth examination of the concept of discretion in the spiritual writings of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who is honored as one of the few female 'Doctors' of the Catholic Church and who in 2000 was named a co-patroness of Europe by Pope John PaulII. Despite her illiteracy, which necessitated that she dictate to a scribe, Catherine is revered for her writings, which reveal spiritual reflection of remarkable depth. At the same time she is an inspiring example of one who remained active in the political and ecclesiastical life of her timewithout sacrificing an intense contemplative life. This book investigates the concept of "discretion," to which Catherine dedicates chapters IX to XI of her Dialogue and letter 213. Discretion, Ragazzi argues, is a helpful tool for interpreting the whole edifice of Catherine's spirituality. The term evades precise definition but can be summarized asa form of self-knowledge that leads to an authentic knowledge of God. Ragazzi first examines the role played by scribes in the composition of Catherine's writings, and whether it is possible to consider such writings as authentic representations of her thought, then provides a detailed analysis ofCatherine's works to determine the meaning and importance of discretion in her spirituality, and how it relates to the concept of prudence. Ragazzi finds that the clearest influence on Catherine's thought was that of Dominican spirituality: her spiritual director, Raymond of Capua, was a Dominican,as was the majority of those belonging to her circle. But Franciscan mysticism, which was prevalent in religious life during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, also seems to have exerted considerable influence. Ragazzi's meticulous study shows how Catherine's way of being a theologian exemplifies the principle that any person authentically striving to live a Christian life, if gifted with great faith and intellectual ability, can engage in theology in a creative manner without the abstract and specializedspeculation reserved for academic theologians.