Siena - as the rest of Italy - is a fabulous place if you have a soft spot for relics. Gruesome bones - most famously Saint Catherine's skull at the San Domenico church - are admired daily by pilgrims and tourists alike. And strange mystique objects like the treasure of the Santa Maria della Scala museum - precious medieval objects designed around a collection of relics from Constantinople - testify to centuries of catholic worship.
|The treasure of the Santa Maria della Scala museum was acquired via a Florentine merchant, who had bought the relics|
from the empress in Constantinople in 1359. The treasure may have been sold to remedy financial problems of the imperial court.
Burleigh's book gives eye-opening and entertaining insight into the dynamics of a market dominated by dollars not bible values. It would be interesting to know what Saint Catherine would have had to say on the matter. Her own bones (or whoever's they are) have been frequently argued over and are now scattered all through Italy - not quite the behavior the sage woman of Siena would have advocated.
StARTers with NINA BURLEIGH
Proof for Faith: Relic Forgery, the Limits of Science and the Borders of Belief
Tuesday 5th November 2013, 6pm. Siena, via Tommaso Pendola, 37.
Talk in English. Free entrance.
Nina Burleigh is writer in residence at the Siena Art Institute for the month of November. She works for The New York Observer, Time, People and the New York Times. She has published five books, the latest one The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox about the controversial prosecution of Amanda Knox in the Meredith Kercher murder case.