Siena, the product also of its historical figures, is presented here through the places that symbolise its Christian faith. Developed on and thanks to the “spiritual” route of the Via Francigena, which for centuries made it a stage for pilgrims from all over Europe, Siena is examined here by highlighting its religious history, given its large number of patron saints and preachers, who have become symbols of Catholic Italy as well as the rest of the Christian world. Routes are suggested below based on key episodes in the lives of the saints, with reference in some cases to works of art that represent their presence, as well as the greatness of Sienese art. We should also bear in mind that in 2015, to mark Siena as Capital of Italian Culture and the Jubilee of 2016, a proposal was made for a pilgrimage on the route taken by the Confraternity of St. Catherine in 1600, signifying a present-day desire to participate in the city’s spiritual life as well as its history.
This episode, known to the inhabitants of Siena as the “Apparita” and commemorated by a fresco on the site, marked the beginning of the saint’s journey of faith. From this moment, Catherine developed a faith so profound that, despite continued opposition from her father, who wanted her to marry, she managed to enter the Dominican order of the Mantellate at the age of sixteen (1363).
Here, in August 1427, Bernardino began his famous 45 sermons in the vernacular, an episode represented in the famous painting “The Preaching of San Bernardino”, painted by Sano di Pietro in 1430. There are two other panels by the artist in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, depicting the “Preaching of Saint Bernardino in Piazza San Francesco” (1440), and the later painting “Saint Bernardino” (1470).
Exhibition made by Youth Committee of the Italian Commission for UNESCO - Tuscany. Text edited by Francesca Ruggiero; web version edited by Paolo Menchetti and Francesco Pacini