Monday, April 28, 2008

St Catherine of Siena

Girolamo di Benvenuto 1470-1524
The Death of St Catherine of Siena c.1500-1510
Tempera on panel 32 H ; 25 L
Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon

Catherine arrived in Avignon on June 18, 1376, and was received by the Pope, Gregory XI. Gregory had been ready to go back to Rome with his court, but the opposition of the French cardinals had deterred him. Catherine urged him to return and end the seventy-four-year residence of the popes at Avignon. In her letters to Pope Gregory, she is blunt and forthright. But she calls him "Babbo". (An Italian child`s name for father: "Daddy")

On September 13, 1376, he set out from Avignon to travel by water to Rome, while Catherine and her friends left the city on the same day to return overland to Siena.

Aged only thirty three, she suffered a stroke in Rome on April 21, 1380

Eight days later she died surrounded by her "Famiglia", including Monna Alessa Dei Saracini. Her body is in the Minerva Church, in Rome but Siena has her head enshrined in St. Dominic's Church.

The above painting is part of an altarpiece whose other parts are in the Denver Art Museum (St Catherine exorcising one who is possessed); the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Saint Catherine of Siena Intercedes with Christ to Release the Dying Sister Palmerina from Her Pact with the Devil); and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (the Assumption of the Virgin and St Thomas appearing to St Catherine).

For the painting in Denver, see The Kress Collection here