The Saint Catherine of Siena parish in Kalamazoo, MI, is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a parish this year. Fr. Robert Creagan, formerly of this parish, organized and let this pilgrimage to Italy including the tour if Siena. Today we will take a quick look at two locations in Siena that are of great significance for St. Catherine, the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico and the Santuario Casa di Santa Caterina.
For a brief history of St. Catherine’s life, check out this site.
St. Catherine spent a large part of her time inside the walls of this Basilica, which was one of the first to be dedicated to St. Dominic. It was begun in 1226 on the hill of Camporegio which had been given to the Doiminicans as a gift from the Malavolti family. Most of the actual rectangular nave and the inside roof are from this time. In the first half of the fourteenth century the new Church (crypt and transept for the old Church) was built on the steep side of Camporegio hill overlooking the district of Fontebranda where St. Catherine had been born. When she began going to St. Dominic the new edifice was already almost finished. (http://www.basilicacateriniana.com/storia_en.htm)
St. Catherine died in Rome 1380 at the age of only 33 where she was buried. Knowing how much it would have pleased the people of Siena to have had at least the remains of their great fellow citizen among them, her former spiritual director, Blessed Raymond of Capua, in 1383, secretly sent the head of the Saint to Siena. Her head is prominently on display in the Basillica while the rest of her body remains in Rome. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the Basilica. http://www.basilicacateriniana.com/storia_en.htm
Along the street between the Basilica and St. Catherine’s home.
Santuario Casa di Santa Caterina was the home to several wool workers. This was where they lived and had laboratories and dry cleaners. Among the wool workers was also the father of the future Saint Catherine, Jacopo Benincasa. The Sienese town bought the house (which belonged to the Wool Guild) and other outbuildings to build a shrine soon after the canonization of Catherine, in 1461.
The courtyard contained numerous statues and beautiful doors.
The church of the Crucifix was built between 1614 and 1623 on the ground that traditionally housed the garden of Benincasa family. The purpose of its construction was to host the “Crucifix” miracle from which Catherine received the stigmata in 1375. The crucifix of the Pisan school dating back to the second half of the twelfth century, comes from the church of Santa Cristina in Pisa.
The inscription at the very top of the arch above the crucifix is “transiit ad sponsum tribus exornata coronis” or “He passed to the bridegroom adorned with three crowns”
Oratory of the Chamber – In a lower level is the Oratory of the Chamber, where you can observe the cubicle where Catherine rested. Here we are preserved various relics and is visible on the floor the stone ledge used by the saint as a pillow to sleep on the floor. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed here, either.
All details are from WikiPedia except where otherwise noted.