In planning our trip to Italy, I had originally hoped to go to Siena, not that I really wanted to see her head, because you can if you like that sort of thing, but I wanted to see where she lived, the Church dedicated to her and get to know more about her. For various reasons I couldn't work it out from home and so decided that if God wanted us to go to Siena, it would happen and if not, so be it.
I never once thought to find out where Catherine was in Rome. Not once. I have no idea why I didn't but I didn't. In Rome, she was the last saint on my mind as we walked the streets searching for the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Most churches in Rome have very unassuming exteriors, often you can't even find the name of the church. We had left the Pantheon and where aiming towards St. Igantius Loyola, clutching our map and trying to find a street sign. We see a church with an elephant outside of it and John suggests we go in to see what's inside. I'm a bit reluctant because my other saint is on my mind, but we were right there so in we went. It is beautiful the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (St. Mary over Minerva, built over a temple of Minerva, goddess of wisdom) I look at the map of the interior of the Church (Italian version) and see Main Altar: St. Catherine of Siena. I check the English version and sure enough, I read it correctly. I am speechless. John tries to get me to look at the side altars and art but I am off to the main altar. I shed tears (and that is so not me) as I saw her tomb.
So beautiful. I knelt and prayed and felt such peace. I thanked God for leading us to her. It was a gift.
This prayer was on a prayer card in the Church:
O God, who adorned blessed Catherine with the particular privilege of virginity and of patience and who permitted her to triumph over the assaults of evil spirits and to remain steadfast in the love of your name, grant, we implore you, that we, in imitation of her, the corruption of the world scorned and the dangers of all our enemies conquered, may attain your glory with certainty. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.