This book examines the origins, development and history of the cult of Saint Catherine of Siena. Gerald Parsons argues that the cult of Catherine of Siena constitutes a remarkable example of the cult of a particular saint which, across more than six centuries, has been the vehicle for an evolving sequence of civil religious rituals and meanings. He shows how the cult of this particular saint developed, firstly, as an expression of Sienese civil religion; secondly, as a focus for Italian civil religion; and finally into an expression of European civil religion. Instead of the predominantly devotional - and frequently essentially hagiographical - approach of much of the literature on Catherine of Siena, Parsons examines the significance of her cult from the perspective of civil religion and the social history of religion.
Gerald Parsons is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Open University, UK.
Contents: Preface; Introduction: civil religion and the cult of Catherine of Siena; 'La santa senese': Catherine and the civil religion of Siena 1384-1857; From 'santa senese' to 'Patrona d' Italia': the cult of Catherine of Siena 1859-1939; Catherine of Siena and the Second World War: 1940-1945; From 'Patrona d' Italia' to 'Patrona d' Europa': the cult of Catherine of Siena 1946-2007; Conclusion: Catherine of Siena and the varieties of civil religion; Bibliography; Index.