The Contrada dell’Oca and Saint Catherine

contrada dell'oca saint catherine

A particular connection

The connection between Contrada dell’Oca and Saint Catherine of Siena is very particular. When the feast of the Sienese saint approaches, celebrated by the Catholic Church on April 29, it is possible to see how, in the suggestive narrow streets of the district, flags with the colors and the symbol of the goose begin to be hung, an animal whose image it was quite widespread in the Middle Ages since it recalled the military and warlike sphere; this is also due to the connections that the symbol had with Roman mythology.

The presence of the goose as a symbol of the Sienese district of the same name is motivated by the centuries-old history of this district and its territory; the same can be said for the colours of its flag which, although they immediately recall those of the Italian tricolor, actually have a much more articulated genesis and which goes far back over the centuries.

Contrada dell’Oca is also one of the districts linked to the earthly life of Santa Caterina da Siena. in fact, the Sienese saint was born in the area that today belongs to the contrada. It is in fact here that the Catherinian sanctuary is still preserved today, a complex built in the Renaissance that stands on the ancient structure where Caterina di Jacopo di Benincasa was born in 1347.

The fact that the saint, the first female Doctor of the Catholic Church, is named the “Saint of the Goose” shows how strong is the sense of claiming Catherine’s birthplace within this district.

In addition to being an important place of worship, the Catherinian sanctuary is also a precious treasure trove of Renaissance works of art. The two main oratories present here – that of the Kitchen and that of the crucifix – are among the most important pictorial testimonies present in Siena, where artists from the end of the sixteenth century fixed the salient episodes of the life of the Sienese saint on the walls.

For more info on the events and history of Contrada dell’Oca, visit the contrada’s official website