A place to discover the life and experiences of the young Sienese woman who became the patron saint of Italy.
The Sanctuary of St Catherine is located in the Fontebranda area, in the territory of the Contrada dell’Oca, an area of the city famous for wool production. During the first half of the 14th century, Catherine’s father, the dyer Jacopo Benincasa, rented a three-storey building as a warehouse for dyeing cloth and home for his large family.
In 1466, shortly after Catherine’s canonisation, the Municipality of Siena decided to purchase it, prompted by the pleas of the citizens, who wished that the house of their saint be forever open to public veneration.
A lay confraternity dedicated to Catherine had already emerged. This group of faithful was dedicated to charity, penance and worship.
Supported by the many donations from devotees, the confraternity started a series of interventions that continued for centuries, transforming the house into a true shrine.
Today, you enter through the Portico dei Comuni, built following the proclamation of Catherine as Patron Saint of Italy on 19 June 1939. It was decided to widen access to the shrine to facilitate the passage of pilgrims and tourists visiting the sites of the saint.
The heart of the Sanctuary House of St Catherine is the Church of the Crucifix, which houses the wooden crucifix from which St Catherine received the stigmata in 1375.
Other areas include the Kitchen Oratory, the Upper Oratory and the Church of St Catherine in Fontebranda.
TheKitchen Oratoryis built over the Benincasa family kitchen and preserves the remains of the ancient fireplace where Catherine fell during one of her ecstasies, remaining miraculously unharmed; in theBedroom Oratory, which includes the small cubicle where she used to pray and rest, the stone on which she usually rested her head is still visible.
Also known as the Oratory of the Tintoria (oratory of dyers), the church of St Catherine in Fontebranda is today the oratory of the Contrada dell’Oca.