The month of Mary: A Marian Month
Saint of the day:
Saint Bona of Pisa
Patron Saint of travellers, specifically couriers, guides, pilgrims, flight attendants; Pisa, Italy.
St. Bona of Pisa's Story
St. Bona of Pisa was born in 1156 in Pisa, Italy. She was the child of a single mother. She was told that her father had vanished during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As a child she was very pious. In a vision while praying before the crucifix, Jesus reached out his hand and touched her. By the age of ten she had become an Augustinian tertiary. (A tertiary is a lay member of a monastic order).
In another vision she learned that her father was still alive and fighting in the Crusades in Jerusalem. St. Bona decided to make a trip to Jerusalem to find her father. After finding him she returned home, only to be captured by pirates on the Mediterranean Sea! Countrymen came to her rescue and she eventually arrived home safely.
St. Bona was appointed the official pilgrimage guide by the Knights of St. James. She made nine trips to Spain and Santiago de Compostella, always leading a group of pilgrims. On her final trip she became very ill. She died at the age of 51 after returning home from the pilgrimage.
Pope John XXIII named her the patron saint of flight attendants, travel guides, couriers and travelers.
The remains of Santa Bona is in the Church of San Martino, Pisa (Italy).
Pappa al Pomodoro
5 pounds tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 pound stale, crustless, 1-inch Italian bread cubes (4 cups)
1 cup basil leaves, torn
Ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Cut a slit in the base of each tomato. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and blanch just until the skins start to split, about 10 seconds. Transfer the blanched tomatoes to the ice water to cool.
Peel and halve the tomatoes crosswise. Working over a mesh strainer set over a large bowl, pry out the seeds and press the tomato juice and pulp through the strainer. Discard the seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.
Wipe out the pot and heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cover partially and simmer over moderately high heat until the tomatoes have cooked down, about 30 minutes.
Add the bread and the reserved tomato juices to the soup and cook, mashing the bread until fully incorporated, and season with salt. Stir in the basil leaves. Spoon the soup into shallow bowls, drizzle lightly with olive oil, top with a dollop of ricotta and serve right away.
This traditional Tuscan soup is robust enough for red wine, but its summery flavors taste particularly good with rosato (rosé), especially ones made from Sangiovese; the wine's cherry-berry fruit seems to intensify the already sweet flavors of end-of-season tomatoes.