Saint of the day: St. Catherine of Alexandria

Italy, Liguria, Albenga, Museo Diocesano, Detail, The saint, portrayed as a young woman wearing seventeenth-century clothes, receiving a wreath from the hand of an angel, In the background a landscape with twilight sky, (Photo by Antonio Guerra / Electa / Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandrian Egypt during the reign of the emperor Maximian (286 – 305). She was a christian and a virgin.

St Catherine was a princess and a noted scholar, from a young age she had devoted herself to study.

A vision of the Madonna and Child persuaded her to become a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity.

When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty.

The emperor summoned fifty of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Catherine won the debate.

Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death.

She was martyred around the age of 18. Over 1,100 years following her martyrdom, St. Joan of Arc identified Catherine as one of the Saints who appeared to her and counselled her.

A tradition dating to about 800 states that angels carried her corpse to Mount Sinai.

Her body was discovered around the year 800 at Mount Sinai, with hair still growing and a constant stream of healing oil issuing from her body.

Saint Catherine was one of the most important saints in the religious culture of the late Middle Ages, and arguably considered the most important of the virgin martyrs, a group including Saint Agnes, Margaret of Antioch, Saint Barbara, Saint Lucy, Valerie of Limoges and many others.

Her power as an intercessor was renowned and firmly established in most versions of her hagiography, in which she specifically entreats Christ at the moment of her death to answer the prayers of those who remember her martyrdom and invoke her name.


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