As today is Domenica (Sunday) I figured I should do something religious so decided I would do all-things Santa Caterina as I am living in her neighborhood.
Santa Caterina (1347-1380) is the patron saint of Siena and she was born in a house just one street from where I am staying. The house is now surrounded by chapels and cloisters and is a convent. In fact, the photos I took the other day of the young men practicing flag-throwing were taken in the courtyard of the convent.
Santa Caterina experienced many apparitions and received the stigmata from God during one of these visions / visitations. Several years after her death, her bodied was exhumed and her head was removed and paraded around town and is now on proud display in the San Domenico church, just a stone’s throw away. So, I “headed off” to see it. I like a good bit of gore every once in a while!
San Domenico is a Gothic church and sometimes described as being “barn-like” as it is not very attractive really. It sits in a lovely spot, though, and the grounds are very nice. I pass it every day on my way to and from school.
Today was my first time inside the church and it is not very appealing inside. It has a massive interior but there is nothing very moving or majestic about how it is adorned. There are only a few pews inside and they all face the little capella built to house Santa Caterina’s head. The capella is really very lovely and right in the middle of the alter sits the head!
She has held up pretty well after 630 years, I wouldn’t have guessed she was over 250! The skin is still intact and quite tight over her face. She looks somewhat sunken and her teeth and mouth are maybe the worst part, although her nose is essentially collapsed but after Michael Jackson I don’t think anyone would find it very upsetting.
I think my tally is now two heads (Santa Caterina and Oliver Plunkett’s in Drogheda, Ireland) and one preserved body (Lenin’s in Red Square) from my various trips. There have also been fingers, forearms and other bits and pieces strewn along the way.
Unfortunately (?), no photo taking is allowed inside the convent or church, but I will attach a few photos of the exterior of San Domenico.