Catherine of Alexandria is one of the four capital virgins – the four holy virgins. She is also worshipped as a martyr in the Roman Catholic Church. She’s reckoned as an assistant for people having tongue and speaking problems as well as Migraine. In popular belief, she is known as the patron of girls, virgins, wives, savants, and artisans. She protects church buildings, universities, and academies. Her aid is also appealed to protect crop plants.
The lore tells that she lived in the 3rd and the early 4th century. She was the beautiful daughter of the pagan King Costus and his wife Sabinella of Cyprus. Guided to Christianity by a hermit, the maiden girl promised herself to Christ.
When Imperator Maxentius started condemning Christians to be executed, Catherine asked him why he wouldn’t convert to Christianity instead of demanding idol sacrifices from them. Maxentius convoked a forum. Fifty of his smartest savants and philosophers took place in this discussion but Catherine argued for Christianity in such an evident way, that all of them converted. The emperor convicted all of them to die on the pyre.
Impressed by Catherine’s intelligence and quick-wittedness Empress Faustina herself went into the dungeon to affect her to paganism. However, Faustina was proselytized, too. Her husband sentenced her to death after he found out.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria in San Lorenzo fuori delle Mura (Rome)
Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Santa Maria del Popolo (Rome)
The young woman was castigated for twelve days in the darkest dungeon without food. During her confinement, her wounds were rubbed with ointment and a white pigeon brought her nutrition. Even Christ himself came to her to encourage her strength in her believe.
She was meant to be put down to death by ‘the wheel’. The Legenda Aurea says that there were four wheels armed with iron saws and sharpened spikes. The martyr was meant to be torn apart by the wheels that should move in opposite directions. She prayed to God and an angel appeared. The cherub smashed the wheels with such power that 4000 heathen were killed.
So the young woman was beheaded but her wounds weren’t bleeding. Instead of blood there was milk running out of them. An angel brought her remains to the Mount Sinai. 500 years later St. Catherine’s monastery was built on that place.
Modern historical research supposes that Saint Catherine is a conceived figure. Nevertheless, until today she is one of the most favoured hallows. Her commemoration day is 25th of November. This day also establishes the begining to the preparations of Christmas.
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