The Shrine of the House of Saint Catherine

Oratory of the Bedroom

Going down the stairs on the left side of the entrance atrium, we come to the Oratory of the Bedroom, which encompasses the small cubicle where Catherine used to pray and to rest; inside it, protected by an iron grille, is the stone where she would lay her head.

This is the space most intimately tied with the first phase of the Saint’s life, where, little more than a child, she would withdraw in isolation, devoted to contemplation and penance. Here, at the young age of seven, she retreated into herself in order to learn to know Christ and then opened up to spread the grace of God throughout the entire mystic body of Christ which is the Church. Thus, from the beginning Catherine’s body, subjected to harsh deprivation, drew in and became smaller. Even the space where she moved about is marked by a progressive shrinkage: she closed herself up in her house, then did not come out of her room, and finally walled herself inside a spiritual cell constructed in the inner reaches of her soul, where she engaged in constant dialogue with Jesus. At this point Catherine has nothing, is nothing, but precisely because of this she can be completely reshaped by divine grace. Her new body does not function according to the laws of biology, but according to the directives of the Absolute: it feeds on the food of the Eucharist and the blood that pours from Christ’s side, and identifies . . .

  • Oratory of the Bedroom, View of the interior.
  • Girolamo di Benvenuto, Saint Catherine Receiving the Stigmata, early 16th century.