St. Catherine's Home... Siena, Italy
I love Siena. The Palio... the Piazza del Campo, the food... il sigh.
There is also St. Dominic's Basilica. It was the religious home of St. Catherine of Siena back in the day. As the plaque outside says, it was:
"Founded by the Dominicans in 1125 as part of their friary. San Domenico is closely associated with St. Catherine of Siena and contains her head in a reliquary."
Whuuuuuut? [double-takes, reads again] "Contains her head in a reliquary."
So at least I was prepared when I SAW said head in said reliquary... but the casual reference in the plaque still startled me. Not as much as seeing the head, but still...
St. Catherine definitely kicked some miracle-makin' butt. No doubt about it. Stigmata, visions, clairvoyance, visions, virginity, lived on nothing but the Blessed Sacrament, the ability to heal, invincibility against fire, and yes, levitation. Anorexic too, but never mind that. She was a saint.
From what I learned, she died in Rome at 33. When she did, (and I quote) "_the people from Siena wanted to have her body._ When they realized they would not be able to smuggle her whole body past Roman guards, they took only her head, shoved into a paper bag. Unfortunately, they were stopped by the guards anyway. The thieves prayed to Catherine to protect them, and when the guards looked in the bag, they saw not the small withered head of a saint, but hundreds of rose petals. When they returned to Siena, the head had re-materialized."
Well now. I guess that explains her head.
But what about the thumb? Her right thumb is in San Domenico's too; in a hermetically sealed glass bell jar. Riiiiight? I was somewhat horrified... and yet... and yet... I couldn't help noticing that hands must've been rather delicate and nicely shaped. I stared at that thumb for quite awhile, like maybe some visible evidence of her miraculous life would still be clinging to it. Didn't see that. But I did marvel at how well human fingernails hold up over time. I had a whole new respect for mine after that.
No one seems to know how that the thumb came to be there.
Apparently her foot is in a reliquary in Venice.
The whole place was beautiful - and strange.
Sunset was sure glowy and nice!