Like many saints, there are legends about Catherine and then there are the true stories. Today I want to tell you the legend of why her body is buried in Rome and her head displayed as a relic in Siena.
The story is that when the people of Siena heard of Catherine’s death, they wanted to bring her body home to be buried. Keep in mind that at that time Italy, was not unified, but separate city-states. Rome had no right to keep Catherine, no matter what she had done for the Church. A group of men tried to reason with the authorities but had no luck. Under the cover of darkness, they went to where was laid out and tried to move her but could not. In trying to move her, her head fell into their hands. As luck would have it, guards were coming in so they ran, taking her head with her and then putting into a sack. When they reached the guarded exit and showed the guards what was in the sack – lo and behold – rose petals!
Like many legends, it isn’t clear when her head became her head again. But it did and is now in a reliquary at Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena. If you scroll down to the section, The Holy Head, you will see the relic. With reverence and respect to this great saint, it’s not easy to look at it.
Tomorrow I will tell you the true story.