From Catherine of Siena to Mother Cabrini: The Enduring Appeal Of Italian Female Saints

Presented by Christine Contrada

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Christine Contrada
December 9th | 7:00 pm EST | Show in my timezone
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Columbus Day in 2020 was a very different affair for New Yorkers.  Overshadowed by a continuing pandemic, there was no parade.  Instead, Governor Andrew Cuomo took the opportunity to unveiled a touching statue in New York City’s Battery Park created to honor Mother Cabrini.  Cuomo noted emphatically in his speech that “today the lesson of Mother Cabrini is even more vital because of the difficulties that we are facing,” before going on to reflect that “the pressure, the stress, and the difficulty reveal a true character of people and society.”  To understand why Cabrini appeals to us, our character and our society, it is helpful to look to the past.

 

There is no timeless model to explain what makes a saint a saint.  Starting with the case study of Frances Xavier Cabrini, who left Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, Italy for New York in 1889 to help Italian immigrants overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties, this talk sets out to explore the ways in which female sanctity in Italy changes to reflect the historical setting.  

 

This spirited consideration of  female sanctity and piety focuses on medieval and Renaissance Italy.  Influential Catherine of Siena, rebellious Arcangela Tarabotti, and others, offer a spotlight on the experience of women which begs a timely question.  In times of crisis, who does society choose to venerate?

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About Christine Contrada

Christine Contrada earned a PhD in Italian Renaissance history from Stony Brook University. She teaches courses across European history at Northern Virginia Community College, Germanna Community College, the Honors College at Stony Brook University, and CUNY Queensborough. Dr. Contrada writes regularly about intersections between history and popular culture for The Florentine, a popular news magazine in Florence, Italy. Always excited to share Italy’s past, she has enjoyed being historical consulted for the Italian film The Innocents of Florence and was invited by the Comune of Florence to give a lecture about Dante at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa.


This native of the East End of Long Island who now lives in Queens, is running the 1,185 km length of Italy virtually this summer while waiting impatiently for jus sanguinis citizenship in Gaeta, Italy.

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December 9th
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