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One of the largest churches in Venice, Santi Giovanni e Paolo was built after Doge Jacopo Tiepolo had a dream about white birds flying over the site. He donated the land on which the church was built in 1246 to the Dominicans. The current Italian Gothic church was completed in 1430.
On a stranger note, the church claims to contain the foot of Saint Catherine of Sienna. Born in Siena in 1347, as the last of 25 children, Catherine became an important ambassador for the Pope, whom she liked to call “daddy”.
Ironically, the most startling incident in her life happened after her death, when her followers in Siena attempted to steal her body from Rome. Unable to get the body out of the city, they lovingly cut off her head and put it in a sack.
When the guards decided to search the sack, her followers prayed to Catherine. The guards saw rose petals inside the sack instead of the head, and let the group go to Siena without taking the bloody sack away from them. And that’s why she’s a saint.