Inside the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena - Photo ©Stefano Cannas
Symbols, signs and relics
The head and finger of Saint Catherine

The head of Saint Catherine is certainly the most important relic of the saint, preserved in the chapel dedicated to her, located in the basilicia of San Domenico in Siena. It was detached from the body of the Sienese nun in 1381 at the request of Pope Urbano VI. For four years the head remained preserved inside, in a cupboard of the sacristy of San Domenico, but once that Assembly of the Republic found out about this, it gave the order to attribute pubic honours to the precious relic. On May 5 1385 there was an impressive procession which carried the relic to San Domenico, departing from the church of the Hospital of San Lazzara, outside Porta Romana. A group of nuns from San Domenica and Lapa, Catherine’s mother. Another important relic is the finger, also preserved in the Basilica of San Domencio: with this relic, benediction is granted to Italy and the Armed Forces in the afternoon of the Sunday when the International Festivals in honour of Saint Catherine of Siena take place. This relic, together with the rope with which the Sienese nun often disciplined herself and the bronze bust which for many years had contained and protected the head, is preserved in an artistically designed shrine, the work of the Sienese Architect Sandro Bagnoli, positioned in the right wall of the Basilica di San Domenico.


Piazza S. Domenico, 1, 53100 Siena SI, Italia
GPS coordinates
Contact person
Federico Muzzi
0577 286848
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