Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Saint of the day: Catherine of Alexandria
The following comes from the Patron Saints index:
Born to the nobility. Learned in science and oratory. Converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. When she was 18 years old, during the persecution of Maximinus, she offered to debate the pagan philosophers. Many were converted by her arguments, and immediately martyred. Maximinus had her scourged and imprisoned. The empress and the leader of the army of Maximinus were amazed by the stories, went to see Catherine in prison. They converted and were martyred. Maximinus ordered her broken on the wheel, but she touched it and the wheel was destroyed. She was beheaded, and her body whisked away by angels.
Immensely popular during the Middle Ages, there were many chapels and churches devoted to her throughout western Europe, and she was reported as one of the divine advisors to Saint Joan of Arc. Her reputation for learning and wisdom led to her patronage of libaries, librarians, teachers, archivists, and anyone associated with wisdom or teaching. Her debating skill and persuasive language has led to her patronage of lawyers. And her torture on the wheel led to those who work with them asking for her intercession. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
While there may well have been a noble, educated, virginal lady who swayed pagans with her rhetoric during the persecutions, the accretion of legend, romance and poetry has long since buried the real Catherine.