Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 3, 2014

A visit with St Catherine of Bologna

Catherine came from an aristocratic Bolognese family. From the age of 9 she was sent to the court of the Duke of Ferrara as lady in waiting to his daughter. There she received excellent training in reading, writing, music, dancing, singing and art.

She left court and entered a convent in Ferrara. In 1432, together with several other young women, she founded a monastery of the Order of Poor Clares. She returned to Bologna in 1456 and she became the founder and Abbess of a monastery of the same order in association with the church of Corpus Domini.



She died in 1463 at the age of 49 and was buried. After 18 days of alleged graveside miracles, her incorrupt body was exhumed and relocated to the chapel of the Poor Clares, next to the church of Corpus Domini where it remains on display, dressed in her religious habit and seated upright behind glass.

On certain dates she receives visitors, and luckily we were in Bologna on one of these days. You enter the main part of the church and are permitted through a door into the chapel where St Catherine waits silently in her lavishly decorated room.


She was canonized in 1712 and is the patron saint of artists.


She is surrounded by gold and angels.





I have managed to see 2 mummified saints in the last week…what a treat!


  1. Amazing, simply amazing. Thanks

    • I think it is great to find these hidden things in Italy.

  2. Great!! 🙂

    • I hope you visit Catheine one day.

      • Thank you, I hope I will! 🙂

  3. Deb , I have learned so much about Italy from reading your blogs ! I really enjoy the photos and intresting stories !

    • Thank you, I enjoy finding interesting things to share with you.

  4. Goodness, they do like their mummified saints in Italy! 😀

    • They do…and they are a bit creepy.

  5. This is a great post – I’d only heard about St Catherine of Siena up to now…

    • Now you will have to visit Catherine of Bologna.

  6. Again I have learned something new about an Italian city I love and have visited 5 or 6 times. I have never heardof this saint. Thanks. I do enjoy your blog.

    • I hadn’t heard of her either until a friend told us about her sitting there in her golden bower.

  7. It is certainly beautiful and worth a visit (thanks Debra); however, I am sure that St Catherine would not approve this rich display. She left the Court to live as a Poor Clare, a contemplative life of fast and prayer. I am sure that she would have chosen a very humble burial…

    • I thought the same thing. From what I read about Catherine, she was humble and liked to work to help others. She would be turning in her grave, if she was in one.

  8. I had no idea … thanks … and Bologna seems like an interesting city to visit.

  9. The setting is incredibly beautiful. But the face, have to say, is a bit cryptic. I wonder if artists knew that she’s the patron saint for them. Thanks for the share, Debra.

    • The saint is a bit creepy, and we thought she might have been given some new hands and feet recently.

  10. Am thinking the same as Mulino and find the story of Poor Clare inspiring. I, too, find it a bit unnerving to see such an old body dressed in new clothes and surrounded by all the gold and glitter, a far cry from St Catherine’s life of piety and poverty.

    • It does seem a bit out of place.

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: