The Shrine of the House of Saint Catherine

Right wall

Starting from the back, this wall presents a panel painting of another great Sienese Saint, Bernardine, painted by Pietro Aldi in 1872.

Next is the first of three large scenes, begun by Riccio and finished by Arcangelo Salimbeni in 1578, whose subject is The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine, a testament to her profound union with Christ. The depiction reflects the version of the event reported in the Legenda Major: during the night of Shrove Tuesday, while in the streets the people were celebrating Carnival, Catherine, closed up in her room, was deep in prayer. Suddenly the Lord and Our Lady appeared to her, accompanied by Saint Dominic, Saint Paul, Saint John the Evangelist, and King David playing the lyre. Our Lady took Catherine’s right hand and held it out to Christ, who placed a precious ring on her finger, marrying her in the faith. In this episode we grasp the vital center of Catherine’s religiousness: Christ is, for her, like a husband, to whom she is joined in a relationship of communion and fidelity. He is the good loved above all other goods.

The scene right after this one puts the accent on Catherine’s ‘political’ activity; the juxtaposition of the two paintings can be considered emblematic of the two fundamental aspects of her life story. For she was not only a great contemplative who lived the most sublime mystical experiences (such as the . . .

  • Pietro Aldi, Saint Bernardine of Siena, 1872.
  • Bartolomeo Neroni, known as Riccio, and Arcangelo Salimbeni, The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine, 1578.
  • Cristoforo Roncalli, known as Pomarancio, Catherine in Discussion with Pope Gregory XI, 1582-1583.
  • Alessandro Casolani, Pope Urban VI Given the Keys to Castel Sant’Angelo, 1582-1583.
  • Alessandro Casolani, Blessed Andrea Gallerani, 16th century.