Catherine of Siena
25.03.1347 - 29.04.1380

Part I
Her life and activities
and Catherine on some paintings

A brief biography.


Catherine of Siena, - Caterina Benincasa -, born March 25, 1347, became a tertiary of the Dominican order (1363), joining the Sisters of Penitence of St. Dominic in Siena. She rapidly gained a wide reputation for her holiness and her severe asceticism. When the rebellious city of Firenze was placed under an interdict by Pope Gregory XI (1376), Catherine determined to take public action for peace within the church and Italy and to encourage a crusade against the Muslims.
She went as an unofficial mediator to Avignon with her confessor and biographer Raymond of Capua. Her mission failed, and she was virtually ignored by the Pope, but while at Avignon she promoted her plans for a crusade. It became clear to her that the return of Pope Gregory XI to Rome
was the only way to bring peace to Italy. Catherine left for Tuscany the day after Gregory set out for Rome (1376). At his request she went to Firenze (1378) and was there during the Ciompi Revolt in June.

After a short final stay in Siena, during which she completed her Dialogo (begun the previous year), she went to Rome in November, probably at the invitation of Pope Urban VI, whom she helped in reorganizing the church. From Rome she sent out letters and exhortations to gain support for Urban; as one of her last efforts she tried to win back Queen Joan I of Napoli to obedience to Urban, who had excommunicated the Queen for supporting the antipope Clement VII.

She died in Rome, Sunday afternoon 29 April 1380, and is buried in the church Santa Maria sopra Minerva of the Dominican priory in Rome. The people of Siena want to have a relict of Catherine and so her head was taken on 5 Mai 1284 to the church of San Domenico in Siena. Her mother Lappa, 94 years old, was presented! 
She was canonized by Pope Pius II on 29 June1461.

Catherine's writings, all of which were dictated, include about 380 letters, 26 prayers, and the four treatises of Il libro della divina dottrina ("The Dialogue of Saint Catherine"), better known as the Dialogo (c. 1475).
She was declared a doctor of the church in 1970


 Catharine of Siena on paintings


Fra Angelico


Fra Angelico, EM 34: The coronation of the Virgin, ca. 1434/1435. Tempera on panel 112 x 114 cm.

Many Dominican Saints: Dominic and one unknown Dominican
on the left; Peter Martyr, Catherine of Siena on the right.


Galleria degli Uffici, Firenze.

Grenada 1997, Mi Bl 480 ; Sc 2732, sheet.


also: Dominica 1996, Mi Bl 318, Sc 1907, sheet.







Fra Angelico, EM 77: Transfiguration of Christ, a. 1441,
fresco 181x152 cm.
Catherine on the left.


Museo di San Marco, cell 6, Firenze.


Equatorial Guinea 1974, Mi 347, Sc 7433.
Mali 1982, Mi 915, Sc C451.




Antonio Bazzi
il Sodoma, 1477-1549)

Catherine of Siena.

Fresco by Antonio Bazzi (il Sodoma, 1477-1549) for the side
chapel in the church of San Domenico in Siena, 1526.


 Vatican City 1962, Mi 402-404, Sc 335-337.

This stamp Mi 402, Sc 335.







Ambrogio da Fossano (Bergognone or Borgognone,
ca. 1445-1523


Catherine of Siena with Madonna and Child and her secretary
Stefano de Corrado Maconi (c 1350-1424).He noticed her Dialogo.

Painting by Ambrogio da Fossano (Bergognone or Borgognone,
(ca. 1445-1523).


Malawi 1977, Mi 289, Sc 311.





Catherine of Siena with Catherine of Alexandria.


Painting by Ambrogio da Fossano (Bergognone or Borgognone,
ca. 1445-1523). Oil on panel 157
x 129,5 cm.

National Gallery, London.


Saint Lucia 1975, Mi 371, Bl 7; Sc 371.







Niccoló Circignano
                  + 1597


Catherine of Siena on the right          

Painting by Niccoló Circignano (il Pomarancio il Vecchio+1597).

Madonna of the Rosary (Dominic receives the rosary).

Parish church of S.Jean Baptist in Pomarancio, Italy.


Italy 1997, Mi 2521, Sc 2164.








Painting by Niccoló Circignano (il Pomarancio il Vecchio)+1597.

Parish church of S.Jean the Baptist in Pomarancio,


Italy 1997. Postmark Pomarancio 18.07.1997.







Alonso Sánchez Coello


Raymond of Capua, O.P. (1330-1399) recorded in his biography of
Catherine of Siena about her Mystic Marriage with Christ (1367). 
Catharine to
o wrote in her Dialogo della divina Providenza
(1347-1380) about the same experience.

The Spanish artist Alonso Sánchez Coello (1531/31-1588) painted
this event in ca.1578, preserved in the Prado Museum, Madrid.

Grenada Grenadines, Carriacou, Petit Martinique 
2000, Mi --, Sc 22. 




Grazio Cossoli (1597)


This stamp, dedicated to the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Pius V, is
inspired by the altarpiece by Grazio Cossoli (1597), which is placed in the Chapel of the Rosary, located in Santa Croce di Bosco Marengo, in the Province of Alessandria, Italy. The altarpiece, painted to commemorate
the victory in the Battle of Lepanto (07.10.1571), shows Our Lady of the
Rosary between St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena, venerated by
Cardinal Bonelli and St. Pius V, as well as by Philip II and Doge Mocenigo.

Vatican City 2004, Mi 1483, Sc     





Fra Filippo Lippi

Painting by Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-09.10.1469):
Madonna dell' Umilità con angeli e santi carmelitani;  too  t
he Madonna of Humility.
In early time it belongs to the collection of Trivulzio, now preserved in the Museo Castello Sforzesco. Milano, and too named the Trivulzio Madonna,
after the name of the previous owner.

Probably painted (oil on panel, 85x168 cm.), when Fra Lippi was living in the monastery Santa Maria del Carmine, ca 1431, and destined for the altar of the Carmelite Saints Angelo and Alberto around the Virgin.

But probably there are two figures from the Dominican history
at the right. One had a cleaver in his head and that is the symbol of the Dominican Peter Martyr of Verona. Near him a Saint with lily on his shoulder, like Saint Dominic, but both with a white (Carmelite) cloak!
Is that for the colour on the painting or a sign of the celestial situation?

Tempera on panel in form of a timpano, 85x168cm.
Preserved in the Museo del Castello Sforzesco, Milano, since 1934.


Sierra Leone 2001 (Christmas) , Mi-- , Sc



Pietro Lorenzetti
                      16th century


Catherine of Siena in adoration of the Virgin with Child and John the Baptist.

Fresco by Pietro Lorenzetti, 16th century, in the basilica of Saint Dominic
in Siena.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.) 1984, Sassone 230, block 18.





Giovanni M. Morandi


Catherine of Siena  accepts the Child Jesus. Dominic receives the lily.
by Giovanni, M. Morandi (1622-1717). The reproduction
gives only the hands of St. Dominic, and is the mirror image.
Preserved in the Dominican priory of Santa Sabina, Rome, the see
of the Master of the Dominican Order

Grenada 1975, Mi 720, Sc 687.


Filippo Naldini
(+ 1782)

The Virgin of the Rosary with St. Dominic and St. Catherine, painting by Filippo Naldini (+ 1782) in the church of the Sts. Peter and Callistus in Civitella  d’ Agliano (Viterbo).


Entire painting framed on three sides by the mysteries  of the rosary, i.e. illustrations of the events of the life of Christ narrated in the Gospels: annunciation, birth and childhood (left); passion und death (right); resurrection, ascension and Pentecost ; and two vignettes
of the
dormition and glorification of the Virgin (top).


Sovereign Military Order of Malta, (S.M.O.M.),2001, Sassone 653, block 66. 







Giovanni Battista Tiepolo


Madonna with six Saints. Oil on canvas 72,8 x 56 cm. 1755/1756.

Painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (05.03.1696-27.03.1770).
To the left St. Catherine and St. Dominic. Szépm
üvészeti Muzeum Budapest.


Hungary 1984, Mi 3660, Bl 170; Sc 2839 f.





Andrea Vanni
(circa 1322-c 1413)  


Catherine of Siena.

Fresco by the Italian Andrea Vanni (c 1322-c 1413), 1396-1400.

The figure on the stamp likes to be inspired by the oldest iconographical
portrait, fresco, (ca 1390) on the mural by Andrea Vanni (c 1322-c 1413) 
in the church of Saint Dominic in Siena.


Italy 1962, Mi 1122, Sc 853.







Poland issued 2002 a set of six stamps in the form of a souvenir sheet
six Saints of Poland and Europe. Among them Catherine of Siena, Dominican tertiary and instrumental in causing the Popes to return to Rome.
She is the patroness of Italy, and of scientists and students, inspired by
the fresco of Vanni.


Poland 2002, Mi 1412 in sheet 155, Sc 3662c.





Giorgio Vasari



Catherine of Siena escorted Pope Gregory XI
at Rome on 17th January 1377.Fresco by Giorgio Vasari (30.
07.1511-27.06.1574) at the Sala Regia in the
Apostolic Palace (1571-1574), Rome.


Vatican City 1977, Mi 701,702, Sc 613,614.




To Part II

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