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St. Catherine's Severed Head - REL2018

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posted on Sep, 15 2018 @ 08:30 PM
Young Fratelli Domenico knew better than to disturb the Abbot during his rigorously practiced seclusion, isolated within the dark and cold walls of his cloister cell adorned with nothing but a large wooden cross.

Friar Don Enzelino, Abbot of a not so humble Dominican monastery dedicated to Sant’Agnese di Assisi in Siena knew instantly that an extraordinary matter had to be at hand for the young monk to disturb him and stretching a letter toward him. He reached for it, broke the well-known seal immediately and unfolded the paper to read.

“ Bl. Raymond of Capua, O.P., Master General of the Dominican Order to my faithful and trusted friend Friar and Abbot Don Enzelino di Siena. Anno Domini October 8th, 1383.

I trust you will forgive my disrespect of a formal letter but I’m writing to you in utmost urgency.

As you know I was called to Rome by His Holiness Pope Urban VI in matters of Catherine of Siena whose spiritual director and confessor I was until her death in April 1380. Further you know that His Holiness had buried Catherine in a Roman cemetery near the Pantheon despite our claims to bury Catherine in Siena.

Soon after her funeral in Rome miracles were reported to take place at her grave. There is no end to it, the situation is escalating to a point where the masses of devotees are endangering the cemetery’s safety. I am asked to oversee her relocation and to resettle Catherine’s remains beneath the High Altar of Rome’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Once more I had pleaded in vein with His Holiness to let me take Catherine back home to Siena.

The matter now is held up for a few days due to unforeseen circumstances.
Because of the use of a poor quality wood for the casket dampness caused by rainwater has started to decompose the body. This brings me to the urgency of my request and I ask you to depart for Rome immediately. As it looks like it will be an easy matter to rescue at least our beloved Catherine’s head and take this relic quickly back to Siena. I myself will have to prepare a sermon and stay in Rome until her sarcophagus is ready for veneration. ”

Don Enzelino closed his eyes for a moment and thanked the Virgin Mother for her provision. He was ready for immediate action but he needed to choose a companion for the journey. His assistant Friar Angelico was half dead from self-flagellation and Fratello Giovanni and Sisto were desperately needed to look after the cows, the cheese and the vine cellar. All other capable brothers were still on their way back from Morocco where they had been on missionary duties.

Still kneeling in front of the wooden cross he touched his temple, as if to ease off a headache then looked up to study the young fratelli whom they had nicknamed Amauris Niavius after an African butterfly. It’s been at least 16 years now he recalled. Fra Bruno had been visiting Sicily on church business and had come back with a black baby boy. Fra Bruno, being from a wealthy Sicilian family, had been approached by their kitchen slave and been handed over a little bundle with the words “I didn’t know then but I was pregnant when they brought me here from my Sahara desert village. Please Padre, look after the boy, please don’t let him become a slave.” The mother had not given a name, and only years later, when Amauris Niavius joined the brotherhood, was he christened Domenico after Saint Dominic who had founded their order.

Surely he will cause trouble in Rome but he will have to do. “Get the Ox and the cart ready” he said to Fratelli Domenico “we are going to Rome.”

And sure enough; they had been traveling the old Via Cassia. “We were treated like terrorists from Florence still opposing the Pope for trying to annex their only just conquered territories around Lunigiana” he puffed, “the gates of the city walls are fortified by these militant……” he touched his temple “b……”

“Welcome fratello mio, Don Enzelino, my friend” interrupted the Blessed Raymond of Capua, “here you are and not an hour too early. Catherine’s coffin will be moved after dark hidden from the eye of the mob. You both can have a good night’s rest and be gone by tomorrow morning. Exit Rome toward Via Aurelia this time, the coastal road at least doesn’t lead directly to Florence.”

His Holiness the Pope just wouldn’t listen to Siena’s pleads for Catherine’s body - Raymond of Capua explained to his friend while they were on their way to the cemetery - Catherine belongs to Rome. She might have been borne in Siena and had experienced many miracles there…… Yes, Raymond had agreed, her first miracle was to survive having been borne during the outbreak of the Black Plague, her mother…… Si si, I understand, the Pope had interrupted, but her contributions to Rome are immense. The Papal Seat might still be in Avignon if it was not for Catherine’s requests, demands and threats to Pope Gregory XI, Dio lo benedica, to bring an end to the unholy French corruption and influence on the Church to again increase revenues.

Raymond had brought up the facts that all Catherine’s ecstatic visions and her stigmata all happened in Siena. It is also where she experienced the Mystic Marriage and received Christ’s foreskin as her wedding ring. Basta! had Urban VI answered. I’m in this office since 1378 and even since then Catherine, although she didn’t eat but the Holy Eucharist for the last two years of her life, Dio la benedica, was my special ambassador after the outbreak of this new schism and she tried to convince nobles and cardinals of my legitimacy and to stop the Papal Seat to return to Avignon with yet another French Pope elected. These are my last words, Don Enzelino, molto rispettato, he had said. We need Catherine in Rome and we are working incessantly to canonize her as a saint as soon as possible.

edit on Sun Sep 16 2018 by DontTreadOnMe because: title edit per OP request

posted on Sep, 15 2018 @ 08:32 PM
The Friars Raymond and Enzelino arrived at the cemetery just as the mortuary workers had lifted the badly damaged casket with Catherine’s body within onto a cart which they now wheeled toward the Church Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Although Don Enzelino performed many blessings during the procession he whispered to his friend: “sopra Minerva! What a joke! These Romans don’t even know that the church they built right over the ruins of an ancient temple belonged to the Egyptian goddess Isis and not to Minerva.”

At the church Bl. Raymond of Capua thanked the workers and asked them to leave, Don Enzelino and himself would stay for further prayers.

It was as Raymond had expected. The flesh around Catherine’s neck flaked off effortlessly and the spine discs were soon set free to detach the head from the body without force.

Early next morning Don Enzelino organized four two handled jars of the best olive oil for the convent’s kitchen storage and a leather bag which now served to hold Catherine’s decapitated head. Soon after they had crossed the river Tiber over the Pons Aemilius, had climbed the short distance up a hill they now had only just reached the Porta Aurelia, the western city gate. Fratelli Domenico had pulled his hood deep over his face but a gate guard had spotted the suspicious slave in a Dominican habit and demanded questions answered.

After inspecting travel documents signed by a Bl. Raymond of Capua for both of them, he asked with a smirk on his face “What was your business in Rome?” “On Sunday we preached, Centurio. We preached about how to love the rosary and the Virgin M….” “Basta! and what do you carry on your cart?” “Four jars of Blessed Oil for our sacred eternal lamps and in the bag you’ll find roses to scent the oil.”
The guard opened a jar and sniffed at it. Then he turned to the bag with the decapitated head of Catherine in it. Fratelli Domenico sweated under his hood but Don Enzelino, who had reached mastery of mind power during his years of solitary meditation, held his head high and projected one focused thought to the soldier: you’ll see roses, nothing but roses. The guard let them go but not without another dirty look at the young monk. Don Enzelino spit into the vicinity of the soldier’s sandals and mumbled under his breath “stupid condottieri” and got the Ox going.

Back in Siena Fratelli Domenico couldn’t stop telling his brethren about the miracle Don Enzelino had performed. Basta, Don Enzelino would answer, you’ll learn how to do it too, and kept embalming Chatherine’s head.

They displayed the holy relic, inserted in a gilt bust of bronze, at the Chapel of Saint Catherine in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena where she still remains until today, visited daily by dozens of tourists from all over the world.


posted on Sep, 16 2018 @ 04:44 AM
The foreskin of Christ as a wedding ring?
Mama mia! What does this mean?
Thanks for the interesting story, looks to be very well researched and you've done well conveying the history and the soul of the characters and their mission.

posted on Sep, 16 2018 @ 04:15 PM
a reply to: Osirisvset

yes that is bizarre. i'm glad i did not make catherine's mystical marriage as my point of research.

and grazie tanto for reading and for the comments.

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