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March 12

Saint of the day:

Saint Fina

Saint Fina's Story

St. Fina or Seraphina, Virgin A.D. 1253 The old town of San Geminiano in Tuscany treasures with special veneration the memory of Santa Fina, a young girl whose claim to be recognized as a saint lay in the perfect resignation with which she accepted bodily suffering. She was born of parents who had seen better days but had fallen into poverty. The child was pretty and attractive. Poor as she was she always kept half her food to give to those who were worse off than herself. As far as possible she lived the life of a recluse at home, sewing indeed and spinning during the day, ;but spending much of the night in prayer. Her father seems to have died when she was still young and about the same time Fina was attacked by a sudden complication of diseases. Her head, hands, eyes, feet and internal organs were affected and paralysis supervened. She lost her good looks and became a miserable object. Desiring to be like our Lord on the cross, for six years she lay on a plank in one position, unable to turn or to move. Her mother had to leave her for hours while she went to work or beg, but Fina never complained. Although in terrible pain she always maintained serenity and with her eyes fixed upon the crucifix she kept on repeating,"It is not my wounds but thine, O Christ, that hurt me".

Fresh trouble befell her. Her mother died suddenly and Fina was left utterly destitute. Except for one devoted friend Beldia she was now so neglected that it was clear she could not live long, dependent on the casual attentions of poor neighbors who shrank from contact with her loathsome sores. Someone had told her about St. Gregory the Great and his sufferings, and she had conceived a special veneration for him. She used to pray that he, who was so much tried by disease would intercede with God that she might have patience in her affliction. Eight days before her death as she lay alone and untended, Gregory appeared to her and said, "Dear child on my festival God will give you rest". And it came to pass when her body was removed from the board on which it had rested, the rotten wood was found to be covered with white violets. All the city attended the funeral and many miracles were reported as having been wrought through her intercession. In particular she is said as she lay dead, to have raised her hand and to have clasped and healed the injured arm of her friend Beldia. The peasants of San Geminiano still give the name of Santa Fina's flowers to the white violets which bloom about the season of her feast day of March 12th.




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Piazza del Duomo, San Gimignano

Piazza Duomo, 8, 53037 San Gimignano SI, Italy



Saint Fina being foretold of her death by Saint Gregory the Great. Chromolithograph after D. Ghirlandaio, 1475.



Fall-apart tender cubes of beef braised in a gently garlicky, bold red wine and black pepper sauce make up Peposo; a traditional Tuscan beef dish.


  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil plus extra if needed

  • 3 to 4 pounds lean beef such as top round, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes

  • 4 cloves garlic still in their peel lightly smashed

  • 1 2/3 cups Chianti divided

  • 3 cups beef broth or stock

  • 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or a large bunch of fresh thyme tied with a piece of cooking twine

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

  • kosher salt and additional black pepper


  1. Heat the oil over high heat in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed pan that has a a tight fitting lid. Generously salt and pepper the beef, then add about 1/3 of the beef cubes to the hot oil. Do not move the beef cubes right away, but let them sear well on the first side, about 3 minutes.

  2. Toss in the smashed garlic cloves in their peels. Use tongs to turn the beef cubes and sear each of the other sides before transferring to a rimmed plate. Add more oil if needed and repeat the searing process with the next third and then the final third of the beef. Return all of the beef to the pan, still over high heat.

  3. Add 1 cup of the Chianti to the pan and let it boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any of the stuck flavourful bits. Let the wine boil for about 2 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly. Add the beef broth or stock, petite diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to the pan and stir to combine. Nestle the thyme bouquet or dried thyme and bay leaves into the sauce, and return to a boil.

  4. As soon as it boils, add the lid, drop the heat as low as it can go, and let it simmer for 2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Remove the lid, stir in the remaining 2/3 cup of Chianti and the freshly ground black pepper, raise the heat to medium, and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce is quite thick and a deep mahogany colour. Remove the thyme bouquet (if you used it), the garlic peels, and the bay leaves. This can be served immediately but improves immensely when allowed to rest tightly covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

To Reheat:

  • Reheat in a covered saucepan over medium low heat, stirring frequently.

To Serve:

  • Peposo can be served alone as a stew, over hot noodles, polenta, rice, or mashed potatoes.

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