Giovanni Guarino interview
Saint Catald, protector of the seafarers
Saint Catald benign, I am not worthy to pray to you, you are our protector, pray to our Lord Deliver us, Saint Catald, from scourges and earthquakes, from lightning and storms, from wars, famine and plague.
This is the prayer that the Cataldians recite to ask for my intercession.
The Cataldians, Taranto’s people, love to be called that in my honour, as if they were my sons. And for the great devotion they have for me, the city is full of symbols that concern me: from the most beautiful “Cappellone”, a true jewel of Baroque art, a treasure chest covered in precious inlays in polychrome marble, this too called by my name.
Or the massive “citro”, an underwater spring that flows into the cove of Mar Grande, and which they call The Ring of Saint Catald.
Even a huge hospital was dedicated to me, but it is the relationship with the sea that has always linked me to the city of Taranto.
I was in the Holy Land, praying on Christ’s Sepulchre.
I had fulfilled my sacred duty as a pilgrim and with my faith reinvigorated, I thought to return to Ireland to resume my bishopric.
But God appeared to me in a dream and ordered me to run to the city of Taranto.
It had now become a pile of ruins for the faith, there was only spiritual desolation.
I was a monk, I was a bishop, I had to obey and I obeyed.
Departing from the coast of Palestine, the journey was tranquil until, after the Iapygian Cape, we entered the Ionian Sea and there we were captured by a terrible storm.
The ship was battered ever harder, and pushed towards the shore, until it sank and ran aground.
A scream, one of the sailors had fallen on the bridge.
He seemed dead.
I reached out: “Come to me” I told him. He got up, knelt and began to pray. All the others also prayed.
We were far from the city of Taranto, but as soon as I set out I met a shepherdess, and asked her for information to reach the city.
The poor girl was deaf-mute, I blessed her and she could give me directions.
It was my first miracle that I performed in the lands of Taranto.
Arrived in the city, preceded now by the reputation of thaumaturge saint, the people of Taranto did not miss the opportunity, and welcomed me faithfully and with devotion, appointing me their Bishop.
With the help of God I carried out my work of evangelisation; I performed miracles, I healed the sick, I punished the unjust, I brought down the pagan temples And until the end of my days I brought back all the Tarantines to the faith of God.
Centuries passed and the city was devastated several times; Byzantines, Saracens, of me, of my body all traces were lost, but not of my memory.
Until, on May 10, 1071, during the work of enlarging the cruciform cathedral, wanted by the Norman archbishop Drogone, the workers while they dug, heard their pickaxes strike against a sarcophagus, from which came out a delicate scent. The tomb was opened in the presence of the religious authorities, and inside they found my body, with on it a small golden cross with the inscription “Cataldus”.
After centuries I revealed myself to my favourite children, I was again among them even with my body.
There were many miracles, healings and devotion to me grew throughout the South, and even beyond.
But the Cataldians, the Tarantines are always my favourite children and to commemorate it is a statue that depicts me blessing, placed at the end of the quay called simply “San Cataldo”.
And there for many years I have welcomed and greeted the sailors as they take to the open sea.
“The fixed eye of God, the mind against the wrath of the clouds. For the welfare of sailors.
The heart of my city splendid with faith and glory”.
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