The Sanctuary of St. Catherine of Siena
Prenota il Sangallo Park Hotel e visita la casa di Santa Caterina
Catherine Benincasa was born in Siena in 1347, daughter of the dyer Jacopo Benincasa. When she was six years's old she had her first vision, while she was in the Church of San Domenico, when she was only fifteen years's old she received the Dominican vest of the "Mantellate". She dedicated herself to the care of the sick and most in need, becoming a voluntary nurse at the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. While she was in the town of Pisa she received the stigmata. She went several times to Avignon to address the Popes, asking them to return the Papal Site in Rome and bring back the peace to Italy. Once back in Siena she founded the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli. In 1378, the death of Pope Gregory XI began the Western Schism. For Catherine a very intense period began, she was commissioned by Urban VI to mediate with princes, politicians and churchmen. In 1380, when she was only 33 years' old, she died. In 1461 Pius II proclaimed Caterina saint, in 1970 Paul VI gave her the title of Doctor of the Universal Church, in 1999 John Paul II proclaimed Catherine patron of Europe.
The House and the Sanctuary of Santa Caterina, site of many pilgrimages, collect many documents related to her life and paintings depicting her history. The Oratory of the Crucifix, where once there was the garden of Benincasa, retains a Thirteenth-century crucifix: in front of it Saint Catherine received the stigmata in 1375 in Pisa. Adjacent there is the Oratory or Higher Kitchen, probably derived in part from the family kitchen, characterized by the beautiful tiled floor (most of it of the seventeenth century) and by the elegant ceiling carved according to designs by Riccio. On the altar, enclosing the stones of the old fireplace, there is a table representing the Stigmata of the Saint, on the walls are hung 17 paintings by different artists. Hence for a ladder, you go down the Oratory Room with frescoes of the Saint's life. On the wall there is the entrance of a cell where Catherine secluded, here there are some objects that belonged her, the stone used by the saint as a pillow, the silk bag which held the head of Catherine after Pope Urban VI in 1381 prescribed to detach it from the body, the bottle in which Catherine put the spices used to soothe the pain of the sick of Santa Maria della Scala and the stick she used for support. Further down more stairs, after a vestibule, you enter the ancient "Warehouse" of Benincasa, transformed into the Church of St. Catherine, in use by the Contrada dell'Oca. On the altar there is a wooden polychrome statue of Santa Caterina, on the walls there are various scenes of miracles, painted by Gerolamo della Pacchia, the angels above the altar were painted by Sodoma. From the church for a ladder, you can go down to the cellar where the miracle of the inexhaustible barrel occurred.