Genoa, Italy: Home of Saint Catherine of Genoa & Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello
Located in Northwest Italy, Genoa is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, the seafaring city had a major role to play in Italian history. Although its glory days as a trade center are behind it, the city is a wonderful place to stay since you don’t face the throngs of tourists found in more popular cities such as Rome and Florence.
You will find the cuisine (especially the seafood) are authentic Italian. Some local specialties are Foccia (flatbread stuffed with cheese & topped with vegetables, olives and prosciutto) and also Farinata (similar to a crepe, made from chick-pea flour cooked in olive oil and filled with vegetables, sauces and cheese. For a treat we recommend Crema (a frozen egg custard) or Granites (shaved ice with fresh fruit flavors).
It was also home to one of the great Saints of the Church: Saint Catherine of Genoa.
Saint Catherine of Genoa:
Although born into a noble family, Catherine had an early calling to the religious life. That was only to come in God’s time, however, since she was refused admission to the convent at the age of 13 and then married off to a rather unpleasant man by the age of 17. Her first years of marriage were spent in misery, until she had a mystical experience at the age of 26, wherein she felt the overpowering of God’s love for her. Her husband was later converted as well and joined her in her endeavors.
Saint Catherine was known for caring for the poor and the sick especially during the plague that swept the city in the late 15th Century. When she died her body was placed in a coffin in the chapel of the hospital where she had served so selflessly. The wooden coffin unfortunately suffered water damage, yet after it was removed a year later the body itself was found to be incorrupt. Her Feast Day is celebrated on September 15.
About the Capuchin Convent in Genoa:
Her body was later transferred to the Capuchin Convent SS. Annunziata di Portoria near the center of town and can be viewed by the public in the Museum.
There are daily Masses (in Italian), and a vigil Mass on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.
Address: Viale IV Novembre, 16121 Genova, Italy
Tel: (+39) 010 580 652
Click here for the official website of the Capuchin museum with the incorrupt body of Saint Catherine of Genoa.
We also recommend a visit to Santa Maria di Castello which houses magnificent works of art as well as a museum. It is located near the pier area (especially convenient if you are on a cruise). Surprisingly, few people know about this hidden gem in Genoa. Many say it is not to be missed.
And one other recommendation is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo here in the city, that also has famous works of art.
And yet one more Church, that is also sometimes overlooked, Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato. In a city of beautiful churches, it still manages to stand out.
Traveling to Genoa:
You can reach Genoa by train from Milan, Florence, Rome and even Naples. You can get train tickets online here.
There is an airport here that connects to several Italian and European cities.
Genoa has a modern cruise port, with cruises originating from here as well as being a port of call for some Mediterranean cruises.
For independent travelers there are overnight ferry connections to–and–from such cities as Barcelona, Palermo and Tangiers.
Photos courtesy Capuchin Convent, Genoa.