Under the rule of the Byzantines, Lombards, and Franks, Bologna became a free municipality in the eleventh century. Around this same time period, the city became the cultural center of Europe with the establishment of the University of Bologna. The center of Bologna is the Piazza Maggiore where students, locals and tourists all gather, taking part in the activities of this bustling city. The “Due Torri” are two towers from the twelfth century, with a view of the city from the top of the Torre degli Asinelli. The churches dedicated to St. Catherine of Bologna and St. Dominic are on the same side of town, south of Piazza Maggiore, and within walking distance from each other. The remains of the patron saint of Bologna, St. Petronio, are in the Basilica di San Petronio, the largest church in Bologna. His bones were moved recently (2000) from the Basilica di Santo Stefano, which is als worth a visit. (Heater, 56)
St. Catherine was born in the city of Ferrara in 1413 to a lawyer and a diplomat. She was prayerful and devout from a young age and, when she turned eleven, went to serve as a maid-of-honor to the daughter of the local Marquis. After three years of service, she returned home to tend to her dying father. “Shortly after his death, Catherine followed her inner calling and left home to join the order of Franciscan tertiaries in Ferrara.” By the age of 14, she had become one of the youngest nuns. She served the Lord faithfully and began having visions both from God as well as the enemy. St. Catherine of Bologna also had the privilege of holding the baby Jesus.
During her life, St. Catherine was skilled in art, music, and poetry. One can go see her music and breviary at her shrine in the Corpus Domini, Bologna. In the Corpus Domini, pilgrims may also find her incorrupt body.
Her feast day is March 9th, the day of her death.
Heater, James and Colleen. The Pilgrim’s Italy: A Travel Guide to the Saints. (Inner Travel Books: Nevada City, California), 2008.
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