This day, as Pope Gregory XI entered Rome in 1377, officially marks an end to the Avignon Papacy
(1308-1377), a period known as the “Babylonian Captivity of the Church.” For most of the 1300’s, the Popes were French. In 1308 Clement V (Bertrand de Got) moved his residence to France (seen above) after some trouble with Rome’s powerful Colonna family. One of the problems he and his successors faced was a loss of credibility; they were seen as puppets of the French King and were believed to be extraordinarily corrupt
. Howeverm this isn’t completely true; they did do some good things like improving Church administration, supporting missionary activity in China, and encouraging scholarship and art. It was a woman who brought the Popes back to Rome. St. Catherine of Siena
(1347-1380) went to Avignon and told Pope Gregory:
Even if you have not been very faithful in the past, begin now to follow Christ, whose vicar you are, in real earnest. And do not be afraid… Attend to things spiritual, appointing good shepherds and good rulers under your jurisdiction… Above all, delay no longer in returning to Rome.
And he didn’t! Catherine was a woman who didn’t believe in mincing words: “It is through silence that the world is lost.”