One can scarce visit Siena without stopping to pay homage to the late Saint Catherine. Siena’s most famous fountain, Fontebranda is also long believed to sit at Saint Catherine’s birthplace, and her home, bought by the council of Siena in 1466 (86 years after her death) is one of the premiere historical destinations of Siena. The House of St. Catherine of Siena is home to art and artifacts surrounding the Saint’s memory. The House, minus the portico that was built in 1941, is home to the Crucifix from which it is said Saint Catherine was branded.
Called the “Mystic of Politics” Saint Catherine was largely known for fighting corruption in the church, and convincing the Pope to re-establish his Holy See in Rome. The most remarkable thing about Saint Catherine’s influence is that despite being outspoken in letters and a formidable voice of dissent to the Pope, she managed to maintain a loving, almost childlike relationship with the man she referred to as Papa, much like a child would use as a petname for their own father. She affected change, but did so without irritating the powers that be, a remarkable feat for a woman in any generation, let alone the church of the 14th Century.
The House of St. Catherine of Siena also houses fragments of her writings to the church and to the Pope as well as paintings and other artifacts kept for her followers, who at one point even worshipped the dearly beloved Saint. Born the youngest of 25 children, dying young at the age of thirty-three from a stroke, Saint Catherine, Doctor of the church has a legacy to whom all visitors should pay homage. If you have the opportunity to visit Siena, you will no doubt encounter many references and homages to the dear saint of Siena, but nothing beats seeing the world the way she saw it. Stop by the house, and remember, while your shoes may stay on, you are walking on what many revere as Holy Ground. Happy travelling.