St. Catherine’s Foot

I’ve prayed in front of St. Catherine of Siena’s head and one or two of her fingers when I was in Siena. I’ve prayed countless times in front of her tomb here in Rome, which is just a few blocks from where I live. And I thought that as far as major relics of her go, that was it. I was wrong.

Here is one of her feet, which I discovered in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Venice:

Click to see it larger and so see a bit of the detail of the foot inside the reliquary.

Click to see it larger and so see a bit of the detail of the foot inside the reliquary.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

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12 Responses to St. Catherine’s Foot

  1. Magdalena says:

    She is the saint I admire the most!

  2. mmfollbaum says:

    Father Jerabek – why is St. Catherine in so many pieces? Are there many saints who are similarly displayed this way? (If you have already addressed this, you can just post the link. :-). Thanks! God bless, Michele F.

    • In former times there was great demand for relics and so the practice was to divide them up between places. Especially in the case of St. Catherine of Siena, who died in Rome, it would have made sense to send part of her to her hometown (Siena) and have part of her in Rome, where she died and where there was also great devotion to her. As for why they have her foot in Venice, the church is a Dominican one (she was a third order Dominican), and probably they arranged to have a substantial relic there also because of the level of local devotion.

      In more recent times the Holy See has limited this sort of “trade” of relics to a certain extent, and I would say that our modern sensibilities are not as attuned to this type of devotion either.

  3. jzpd says:

    My husband’s many times great aunt was a Martyr of York and her hand is contained in a reliquary at Bar Convent in the U.K.. It may seem a grisly treasure, but we’re strengthened when we look through the relic to the deeper meaning beyond it. Also a good reminder of the fact we were once not free to worship as Catholics, a freedom we often take for granted. I wonder whether I’d be as brave in defending my faith? Hope I’m never put to the test as she was.

    • Amy Welborn used to have a great quote on her blog, “She thought she could be a martyr, if they killed her quick”; I forget the author and the work it came from, but it certainly expresses a real sentiment. Hopefully we will never have to face it, but if we do, may the Lord give us the grace to do so with courage and love!

      • Magdalena says:

        It’s Flannery O’Connor, in A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories.

      • Magdalena says:

        “She would have to be a saint because that was the occupation that included everything you could know; and yet she knew she would never be a saint…. but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

      • Awesome – thanks!

      • Magdalena says:

        Can’t quite recall which story it’s in, but I think it’s A Temple of the Holy Ghost.

      • jzpd says:

        Somewhat like carrying my cross – I would make a better job of it with a little shoulder padding and wheels at the bottom. You make a good point, Father, that of facing martyrdom not only with courage, but also with love.

  4. Bob Boffa says:

    Poor Thing! That’s her All over!

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