La tête coupée de Sainte Catherine de Sienne-RELICS

The severed head of Saint Catherine of Siena

In an adorning reliquary in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena is the severed and mummified head of the venerated Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). His right thumb is also in a smaller reliquary not far from his head.

At the age of seven, Catherine had the first of her many visions, with Jesus enthroned, surrounded by saints. As a teenager, she took a vow of perpetual virginity and devoted herself to prayer and worship. To thwart her family's attempts to marry her off, Catherine cut her hair, scalded herself, and made herself a nun. Shortly after entering the convent, she had a vision of Jesus placing a ring on her finger in marriage. This ring, for the record, was no ordinary wedding band; instead of being gold, it was made of the sacred foreskin of the child Jesus, arelic popular at the time. For the rest of her life, Catherine said she could see the ring on her finger.

At the age of 28, Catherine was said to have received the stigmata, when five red rays shot from the crucifix she was praying to and pierced her hands, feet and heart. She refused to eat and drink, except for the Blessed Sacrament. Her miracles are not limited to stigmata and visions: Catherine was seen levitating during prayer, and a priest once said he saw Holy Communion fly from her hand into Catherine's mouth, like a Frisbee miraculous.

Beloved Catherine died young, at the age of 33, and was canonized more than a century later. She died in Rome, but her hometown, Siena, wanted her body. When they realized they couldn't get the whole body past the Rome guards, they took only his head, hidden in a paper bag. Unfortunately, they were still arrested by the guards. The thieves begged Catherine to protect them, and when the guards looked into the bag, they saw not the saint's withered little head, but hundreds of rose petals. When they returned to Siena, the head had rematerialized, Saint Catherine's last miracle. His head was placed in a splendid reliquary, where it is today, near his disembodied thumb, in the church of San Dominico.

The rest of Catherine's body remained in Rome and her foot is believed to be in a reliquary in Venice.
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