NOBLE CONTRADA OF THE GOOSE - FROM THE PAST

Santa CaterinaThe combative endeavors of the military companies of San Pellegrino and Sant’Antonio (which flew a banner depicting a white goose against a green field, later adopted as the symbol of the contrada) were linked to a medieval tradition, when the Goose’s warriors fought in the battle of Montemaggio (1145) and the fateful battle of Montaperti (1260) in which the Fontebranda quarter deployed 356 soldiers in the field. Since the 15th century the contrada of Fontebranda has owned the house where St. Catherine of Siena was born , along with the adjoining shop where her father practiced his wool- dying trade. The contrada’s religious practices and cult of Catherine were inextricably linked. Today, the Goose participates in the celebrations of St. Catherine, patron of Siena and of Italy and it also dedicates to her a festival in early May. Over the centuries, the Goose has maintained a singular and pronounced taste for great popular pageants. When, in 1667, it decided to donate materials to the contrada of the Caterpillar for the construction of their church, it sent 81 mules loaded with bricks, ”with a bagpiper in the lead, and a live goose on the back of the first mule…The entire city admired the procession, and everybody cheered, -Long live the Goose-“ During the Italian Risorgimento, the Goose’s quarters became the base for secret meetings of the democrats and republicans. There still exists a centuries-old and heated rivalry between the Goose and the contrada of the tower, an inevitable antagonism between the two most populous, working-class neighborhoods of Siena, one that dates back to at least the 16th century, and that has never subsided.

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