Tuesday, June 23, 2015




It is the house where St. Catherine of Siena died on April 29, 1380, only 33 years old

The companions of St. Catherine, after her death, founded in the house the first community of the Sisters of Penance of St. Dominic

In 1480, for the centenary of her death, Antonio Aquili aka Antoniazzo Romano (about 1435-40/1508) and the assistants in his workshop frescoed the chapel with “St. Catherine of Siena with Saints”

The frescoes were removed in 1637 and divided between the Chamber of St. Catherine at the Minerva and the Convent of St. Catherine of Siena at Magnanapoli

“Today we can only imagine what the room would have looked like in the fifteenth century (...): scenes and isolated figures of saints arranged with bright blue skies in the background within frames that gave the illusion of opening to the outside, according to the criteria of the painting fashion of the late fifteenth century. (...) The choice of holy men and women of the cycle is explained in the biography itself of Catherine. The saint from Siena in fact lived a life both for charity and for militant political action shared with other saints in the cycle such as Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Alexandria, kept today at Magnanapoli. In the choice for the other saints the dominant theme is the aspiration to a pattern of life of penance and eremitic asceticism and it is clear therefore the thin thread that ties the cycle: not only celebratory - Catherine saint among saints - but also an allusion to an active commitment in the Church and to a life of poverty” (Anna Cavallaro)

In 1573 the nuns moved into their new convent in S. Catherine at Magnanapoli

St. Catherine of Siena is the patron saint of Italy and Europe and is the only saint with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Pio of Pietrelcina to whom the Catholic Church has officially recognized the authenticity of the stigmata

She was buried in the nearby church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, but her head was severed in 1381 at the behest of Pope Urban VI (1378/89) and taken to the Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena where it is also kept a hand thumb with which the saint's blessing to Italy and Europe is given each year on her feast day

A foot of St. Catherine is preserved in the Church of Sts. John and Paul in Venice while a rib and a scapula are in the Shrine of St. Catherine in Astenet in Belgium

In 1579 the ORATORY was enlarged by Francesco Capriani aka Francesco da Volterra (1535/94) for the College of the Neophytes

It was renovated in the years 1638/39 for the Confraternity of the Annunciation, whose activity was to adopt poor girls

The wooden CEILING is the original one of the fourteenth century

On the WALLS seventeenth-century paintings with “Stories from the life of St. Catherine”

First painting on the left “Return to Rome of Gregory XI” 1980 Arcangelo Longo


“St. Catherine” a late work by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640)

Beneath the altar relics of St. John the Martyr

In the two side arches sarcophagi made out of jasper with the relics of Sts. Euraclio and Esuperanzia

The building is part of the 1874 TEATRO ROSSINI (Rossini Theatre) by Virginio Vespignani (1808/82)

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