Luongo, F. Thomas (Francis Thomas Luongo)

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Luongo, F. Thomas (Francis Thomas Luongo)


Education: University of Notre Dame, Ph.D., 1998.


Office—Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Ave., Herbert Hall, Ste. 105, New Orleans, LA 70118-5698. E-mail—[email protected]


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, department of history, Eva-Lou Joffrion Edwards Professor, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program, codirector; Rhodes Scholar representative.


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellowship, 2005-06.


The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2006.


F. Thomas Luongo earned his doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1998. He went on to join the faculty at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he is the Eva-Lou Joffrion Edwards Professor in the Department of History, and also serves as the codirector of the University's Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program. He was one of fifteen scholars named as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow for the 2005-06 academic year. The award allowed him a stipend to live in Rome for a year, as well as housing at the American Academy, considered to be one of the foremost centers for study and research into the arts and the humanities in the world. Luongo's particular area of research and academic interest includes the culture of the religious literature written in the vernacular in Italy during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In addition to his academic duties, Luongo is the author of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena.

In The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, Luongo seeks to dispel some of the more commonly held ideas regarding to what extent saintly figures were involved or interested in more common, worldly issues, particularly those of church and local politics. Most works regard Catherine of Siena as having a mystic quality even in life, one that naturally would have put her above the common, ordinary issues of secular political concerns. Luongo addresses this theory by taking a close look at the well-respected biography of Catherine that was written by Raymond of Capua, who served as her confessor. Raymond of Capua addressed Catherine's attitude toward all things earthly in a style that was very much accepted during the period in which the book was written, so Luongo had taken this work as a foundation and gone on to flesh out what is known of Catherine's life and works in order to provide a more well-rounded and hopefully more accurate image of her existence. To gain more intimate access to the saint's thoughts, Luongo used Catherine's own letters, as well as other materials available in the archives in Siena. He also delved into Catherine's background and family to determine the attitudes with which she might have grown up. While her own family consisted of primarily poor artisans, they were in fact connected to other individuals of a more political nature, including some associated with the Dodici, a group of citizens that the Riformatori had forbidden to become involved in government. These relationships were likely to have affected Catherine's own thoughts and political attitudes, and would have made it unlikely that she would distance herself from secular concerns. It is clear that Catherine stood in favor of reform, and she was known to speak out against Gregory XI, reigning pope of her time. But her letters also make it obvious that, even as she demanded change, Catherine firmly believed in the salvation of her country and its people, and believed the papacy was ultimately the key to peace and redemption. Thomas M. Izbicki, in a review for H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, remarked of the book that "the overall portrait that emerges is convincing. Catherine was indeed a political player in her time. Moreover, Luongo wisely refrains from reducing the saint's motives to pure politics as some might dismiss them." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that the book, although it is "not easily accessed by the general reader, will be appreciated by its intended academic audience." Anne L. Clark, writing for Church History, declared that "Luongo's portrayal of Catherine is exciting and compelling: exciting in revealing the intrigue and danger in which Catherine actively participated, compelling in its evidence and interpretation."



Church History, March 1, 2007, Anne L. Clark, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, p. 168.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 1, 2008, Saskia Murk-Jansen, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, p. 324.

Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2005, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, p. 12.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2007, Gabriella Zarri, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, p. 145.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, January 1, 2008, E. Ann Matter, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, p. 211.


American Academy in Rome Web site, (July 26, 2008), "2005-2006 Rome Prize Winners."

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (May 1, 2007), Thomas M. Izbicki, review of The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena.

Rhodes Scholar Web site, (July 26, 2008), representative listing.

Tulane University History Department Web site, (July 26, 2008), faculty profile.

University of Notre Dame Web site, (July 26, 2008), academic appointment listings.