Saint Catherine is an Italian animated historic and religious film that was released in 2006 and distributed by Mondo TV.
This animated film depicts the life of a great saint through the magic. It was a particularly ambitious task for a group of students attending a Master's Degree programme at Rome's LUMSA University under director, Orlando Corradi.
The first biography of Saint Catherine was written by Friar Raimondo delle Vigne da Capua. The Saint was placed under his direction when the Dominican Order recognized the orthodoxy of the reform she proposed in 1372. We have been considering the matter of producing a cartoon film about St. Catherine for years and then, in collaboration with LUMSA, we finally realized a poetical twenty-five minute film about her life.
The story begins by recounting the hardships of two orphans named Brando and Duccio who extort money from the rich to make a living… until their fateful, yet fortunate encounter with Catherine, who felt the calling of the faith from the time she was young until age of 17 and had just been accepted into the order of the Mantellate.
We imagined a crowded Piazza del Campo in the city of Siena, during a holiday and precisely on 2 July 1357. We had two orphans, named Brando and Duccio, mingle among the crowd as they pick the pockets of the local well-to-do gentlemen out of necessity. Despite their talent, they are discovered and all that's left for them to do is run. As the sun sets that same day, Catherine and her brother Stephen are walking down a path through the woods.
They are heading towards the valley where Brando and Duccio are in hiding. Catherine is attracted by the sounds that come from the thick of the woods. She leaves the path and makes her way amidst the heavy underbrush and here she comes face-to-face with a crow who still does not know how to fly, an owl and a squirrel. But since she has to return to Stephen, she must leave them behind. As she takes up her journey once again, she lifts her eyes towards the top of the hill where the church dedicated to St. Dominic stands: the sky shines bright in the light of sunset and amidst the clouds appears the figure of Jesus Christ surrounded by blinding light.
The three little animals that are following stop in order not to collide against her and they in turn stand enraptured by the vision. Stephen joins her in the meantime and Catherine only manages to reply after the vision disappears, but she keeps from telling him what she has just witnessed. The little girl's life completely changes since the event and she often tries to immerse herself in prayer and contemplation.
One morning some cries coming from the courtyard distract her from the state of peacefulness into which she tries to retreat. So she hurriedly sets off towards the woods, followed by the three little animals who are the only ones to have noticed her flight. Catherine goes inside a cave that, by chance, is also Brando and Duccio's hiding-place. They are lying inside, fast asleep. She then returns to her prayers, comforted by the silence and peacefulness inside the cave.
Suddenly a strong gust of wind pushes the owl, the crow and the squirrel inside the cave. The wind whirls around Catherine, she is lifted up into the air but is so immersed in her prayers that she doesn't realize what is going on. The baby bat of a family that sleepily hang from the cave vault opens its eyes and sees a heavenly vision that seems like an angel suspended in thin air. The baby bat is so surprised that it falls down from the ceiling, right onto Duccio's head who screams out in fright. Catherine interrupts her prayers and gets to meet the two orphans who will never leave her side from that moment on.
Time goes by and the little girl becomes an adolescent; unfortunately in those days it was the custom for parents to find a husband for their daughters and this came about for Catherine, as well. But she refuses categorically and says that she has already been pledged to Jesus. She takes her habit two years later as a Dominican tertiary. The first thing she does is to give away her clothes and then dedicates her life to charity and to the good of her fellow men. One day, as Brando and Duccio accompany her (as usual) in her charity activities, they come upon a beggar who is freezing with cold. Catherine takes off her cloak and covers the poor man's shoulders as she says: "Best without a cloak than without pity".
During carnival night in 1376, Jesus appears to her again. He gives her a ring set in rubies and she is the only one who can see it, along with her little animal companions. Our story comes to a close with the death of the Saint, which came about when she was only thirty-three years old. The film ends as she utters her final words to her friends and a dove flies off the windowsill towards the sky.