St. Catherine of Siena before Pope Gregory XI by Giovanni Pellegrini (1675-1741)
Coat of Arms of Pope Gregory XI
April 29th is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, instrumental in convincing Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome.
The artifacts presented here are two silver coins, known as bologninos. They were coins minted in Bologna and other cities of medieval Italy from the late 12th to the 17th centuries.
This type of coin originated in 1191 when an emperor, Henry VI, granted Bologna the right to mint a silver denaro. In 1236 this unit was rechristened Bolognino piccolo because a larger, more valuable coin was introduced. The value continued to change depending upon the political and economic situations of the times.
Saint Catherine of Siena: Be the person God created you to be, and you will set the whole world on fire.
April 29th is the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, a woman associated with Pope Gregory XI, the last of the Avignon popes.Amidst conditions of grave political unrest and intrigue, with the papacy located in Avignon, rather than in Rome, Gregory XI intended to return to Rome. He was cognizant of the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden who warned him of his dependence on political alliances. Equally compelling was the visit from a young Dominican nun, Catherine of Siena. She visited Pope Gregory at Avignon as an ambassador of peace. Catherine could neither read nor write, but her powers of persuasion were immense, and she spoke to him through an interpreter. Known in her native land for her considerable compassion and great love for the poor, she was equally at home writing to popes, bishops, European leaders, and leaders in the Papal States. Her contention was the pope simply had to return to Rome, and she both chided him (he listened meekly to her words) and spoke with affection for him. Her letter, written to him in 1376, is lengthy and persuasive. And in another letter, she warned him, Don’t make it necessary for me to complain about you to Christ!
On her feast day, we honor St. Catherine of Siena, offering our gratitude for the gift of her life to our Church.