A saint in the family? A wonderful chapter of the Cinelli Colombini family’s story

blessed john giovanni colombini

Above: “An Episode in the Life of Blessed John Colombini” by fifteenth-century painter and miniaturist Priamo della Quercia (image via Wikipedia). I’m sure that Stefano will be able to tell us more about the people portrayed in this panel and what they are doing. But I imagine they are Sienese aristocrats who are imploring John to abandon his vow of meekness and to return to the fold of the Sienese nobility. The panel is found in the Ospedale della Scala in Siena (image via Wikipedia).

It’s a funny thing when someone casually says to you, “well, you know, there was a saint in the family.”

Not many people can say that, unless they are speaking metaphorically.

I’ve taken the tour of the Fattoria dei Barbi wine cellar a number of times now, a copule of those with Stefano himself. That would be Stefano Cinelli Colombini, the owner of the Fattoria dei Barbi.

When you get to the room with his family tree, he always chuckles and says, “well, you know, we had a saint in the family.”

Technically, his fourteenth-century ancestor Giovanni Colombini wasn’t a “saint.” But he was beatified by by Pope Gregory XIII in the sixteenth century.

It’s understandable that Stefano calls him a saint when he’s addressing visitors who might not be familiar with the distinctions of sainthood.

Beatification is the last step toward sainthood before canonization.

After I returned from my most recent visit to Fattoria dei Barbi, I set about reading up on the life of the Blessed John Colombini and discovered that his story is extremely compelling.

He was a Sienese patrician who turned his back on the trappings of aristocratic life during the Middle Ages to embrace a life of poverty and charity.

The story is all the more fascinating when you consider that he was alive during the century of the Avignonese Papacy. He lived long enough to see Pope Urban V bring the Holy See back to Rome.

But that’s a story for another day.

In the meantime, check out this entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Blessed John Colombini and for a quicker but also informative read, the Wikipedia entry on his life.

Lastly, see this Wikipedia entry on the order he founded, the Jesuati.

So, the next time someone nonchalantly mentions to you that, well, you know, we had a saint in the family…

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