Sunday, April 29, 2012

With My Catherine in Siena

Most readers of this blog have figured out that the character known as Katie, frequently mentioned here, is my wife. Those who know her particularly well know that the term "character" is not used in vain. Some know or may have deduced that Katie's baptismal name is Kathleen. But what even I did not know until, well, today is that her confirmation name is Catherine, “because there is no Saint Kathleen.”

Walking through Siena, Italy, today; going to Mass at Il Duomo (the Cathedral); visiting the house where Caterina Benincasa grew up as the 24th child of her parents and lived for some years as a third-order Dominican before receiving the stigmata and generally kicking some major ass, including that of the Pope hiding out at Avignon; and visiting the Church of San Domenico (St. Dominic) next door, where Caterina worshiped — I learned another new thing about my wife:

Since her confirmation, she has always held a candle for St. Catherine of Siena.

She wore me out, that wife of mine. She could not get enough of the walled city in Tuscany which gave the world one of its truly exceptional women, or Europe one of its three patron saints. And when it was time to go home (I'm tired, I'm hungry, have mercy), she had to take fifty more pictures.

Here is another fact I did not know until today: St. Catherine of Siena is one of the three patron saints of Europe. The other two? One was a convert from Judaism and the other the widowed mother of eight. See answer below.

Ah, but the dinner bell has rung here at Poggio Asciutto, the farm in Tuscany that I misspelled in my last post. So, while I have much more to write about our day in Siena, my stomach must have the last word. For now, then, here's the answer to today's pop quiz:

In 1999, Pope John Paul II named three women as patron saints of Europe. They are Catherine of Siena, Teresia Benedicta of the Cross (born Edith Stein to Jewish parents in 1891 and martyred at Auschwitz in 1942), and Bridget of Sweden (Birgitta of Vadstena). St. Bridget began having mystic visions after her husband died. I'm afraid Katie is already seeing things.

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