I was in Italy in August and September this year and visited many medieval sites – in the next few blog posts, I’ll give you some highlights
In late August, I went to Siena – a gorgeous medieval city in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. This was the home of one of the fourteenth century’s more colourful saints: Catherine of Siena. From a very early age, she had ecstatic visions of Jesus Christ and underwent some kind of mystical marriage with her Saviour. Some of these visions are, frankly, very disturbing to the modern mind. They included a Dante-like journey through heaven, hell and purgatory and some very intimate encounters with Christ.
The Popes during this period weren’t based in Rome but far off Avignon in France. Catherine visited the Pope in his French exile and begged him to return. The saint became very embroiled in the fighting between different Italian states and competing claimants to the throne of Saint Peter. She eventually died in Rome aged just 33 of a stroke.