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Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, martyr
EWTN ^ | not known | Lives of the Saints

Posted on 11/25/2005 9:28:52 AM PST by Salvation

St. Catherine / Crivelli

Taddeo Crivelli
Italian, Ferrara, about 1469

Feast: November 25
From the tenth century onwards veneration for St. Catherine of Alexandria[1] has been widespread in the Church of the East, and from the time of the Crusades this saint has been popular in the West, where many churches have been dedicated to her and her feast day kept with great solemnity, sometimes as a holy-day of obligation. She is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of mankind among the saints in Heaven; she is the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, millers, and other workingmen. She was said to have appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans; the Dominicans adopted her as their special protectress. Hers was one of the heavenly voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.

Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.

Yet in spite of this veneration, we have few facts that can be relied on concerning Catherine's life. Eusebius,[2] "father of Church history," writing around the year 320, had heard of a noble young Christian woman of Alexandria whom the Emperor ordered to come to his palace, presumably to become his mistress, and who, on refusing, was punished by banishment and the confiscation of her estates. The story of St. Catherine may have sprung from some brief record such as this, which Christians writing at a later date expanded. The last persecutions of Christians, though short, were severe, and those living in the peace which followed seem to have had a tendency to embellish the traditions of their martyrs that they might not be forgotten.

According to the popular tradition, Catherine was born of a patrician family of Alexandria and from childhood had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned much of Christianity and had been converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child. When Maxentius[3] began his persecution, Catherine, then a beautiful young girl, went to him and rebuked him boldly for his cruelty. He could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, and summoned fifty philosophers to confute her. They all confessed themselves won over by her reasoning, and were thereupon burned to death by the enraged Emperor. He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer of a consort's crown, and when she indignantly refused him, he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, and when he got back he discovered that his wife Faustina and a high official, one Porphyrius, had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel.

When she was fastened to the wheel, her bonds were miraculously loosed and the wheel itself broke, its spikes flying off and killing some of the onlookers. She was then beheaded. The modern Catherine-wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint's wheel of martyrdom. The text of the <Acts> of this illustrious saint states that her body was carried by angels to Mount Sinai, where a church and monastery were afterwards built in her honor. This legend was, however, unknown to the earliest pilgrims to the mountain. In 527 the Emperor Justinian built a fortified monastery for hermits in that region, and two or three centuries later the story of St. Catherine and the angels began to be circulated.

1 Alexandria, the great Egyptian city at the mouth of the Nile, was at this time a center of both pagan and Christian learning. Its Christian activities centered around the great church founded, according to tradition, by the Apostle Mark, with its catechetical school, the first of its kind in Christendom.

2 Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, who lived through all the vicissitudes of the years before and succeeding the Edict of Toleration and died about 340, wrote the first history of the Church.

3 Maxentius was one of several rival emperors who struggled for mastery during the first dozen years of the fourth century. Like the others, he tried to crush what he considered the dangerous institution of the Catholic Church. Some historians are of the opinion that Catherine suffered under his father, Maximian.

This was taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.


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Saint Catherine of Alexandria's feast day is November 25th.
1 posted on 11/25/2005 9:28:52 AM PST by Salvation
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To: All
Catholic Forum

CATHERINE of Alexandria

[Saint Catherine stained glass window]
Also known as
Katherine of Alexandria
25 November; removed from the calendar and cultus suppressed in 1969
Apocryphal. Nobility. Learned in science and oratory. Converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. When she was 18 years old, during the persecution of Maximus, she offered to debate the pagan philosophers. Many were converted by her arguments, and immediately martyred. Maximus had her scourged and imprisoned. The empress and the leader of Maximus' army were amazed by the stories, went to see Catherine in prison. They converted and were martyred. Maximus 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.
beheaded c.305 in Alexandria, Egypt
Name Meaning
pure one (= Catherine)
apologists; craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.); archivists; attornies; barristers; diocese of Dumaguete, Philippines; dying people; educators; girls; Heidesheim am Rhein, Germany; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; Kuldiga, Latvia; lawyers; librarians; libraries; Mähring, Germany; maidens; mechanics; millers; nurses; old maids; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; turners; University of Paris; unmarried girls; wheelwrights; Zejtun, Malta
spiked wheel; woman strapped to the spiked wheel on which she was martyred; woman arguing with pagan philosophers
Gallery of images of Saint Catherine [12 images, 209 kb]
Additional Information
Goffine's Devout Instructions
Saint Catherine's Wigs
Google Directory
Christian Biographies, by Kames E Keifer
Columbia Encyclopedia
Catholic Online
Lives of the Saints, by John Crawley
Explore Art
For All The Saints, by Katherine Rabenstein
Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society
Ecole Glossary, by Karen Rae Keck
New Catholic Dictionary
Catholic Encyclopedia, by Leon Clugnet

2 posted on 11/25/2005 9:30:33 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Troparion - Tone 4

By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, and like the most bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; you convinced the queen, and also chastised the tyrant, God-summoned bride, bless-ed Katherine. You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest fairest Bride-groom Christ, and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Let all of us who love to honor the martyrs form a great choir in praise of the most wise Katherine, for she preached Christ and trampled the serpent, despising the knowledge of the orators!

3 posted on 11/25/2005 9:58:46 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Salvation


4 posted on 11/25/2005 10:00:47 AM PST by nickcarraway (I'm Only Alive, Because a Judge Hasn't Ruled I Should Die...)
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To: Kolokotronis

Thank you for the prayers.

5 posted on 11/25/2005 4:42:48 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway

Thanks for the bump, Saint Catherine of Alexandria had so much knowledge, yet was will do die for her loyalty to Christ. Very inspiring to me.

6 posted on 11/25/2005 4:43:37 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
You are as always very welcome. Its nice when the East and the West share a feast day.

Here is the Prayer from the Mass for her feast day which I found in my Dad's Missal:

"O God, who on the summit of Mount Sinai didst give the Law to Moses, and didst by means of Thy holy angels miraculously place the body of Blessed Katherine, Thy Virgin and Martyr, grant we beseech Thee, that through her merits and intercession we may be able to reach that mountain which is Christ."

The Monastery of St. Katherine at Sinai

7 posted on 11/25/2005 6:36:17 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

That looks as in no one could penetrate it.......on a hill.

8 posted on 11/25/2005 7:01:11 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

"That looks as in no one could penetrate it.......on a hill."

Well in one sense, it is a tough neighborhood and has been for centuries. The monastery is protected by the Theotokos and a tribe of bedouins whom Mohammad ordered to protect the monks. There is also a order signed with Mohammad's hand print and mark directing all Mohammadans to honor the monks and keep them safe kept at the monastery. In another sense the remoteness of the monastery and the fastness of the walls and Mount Sinai demonstrate the difficulty of the climb up the Ladder of Divine Ascent (which was written there at the monastery).

9 posted on 11/26/2005 4:16:35 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis; Lady In Blue
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

God calls each one of us to be a saint.
November 26, 2006
St. Catherine of Alexandria
(c. 310)

According to the Legend of St. Catherine, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred.

Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.


The pursuit of God's wisdom may not lead to riches or earthly honors. In Catherine's case, this pursuit contributed to her martyrdom. She was not, however, foolish in preferring to die for Jesus rather than live only by denying him. All the rewards that her tormenters offered her would rust, lose their beauty or in some other way become a poor exchange for Catherine's honesty and integrity in following Jesus Christ.


“Therefore I [King Solomon] prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;/ Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands; and I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom is their leader, though I had not known that she is the mother of these” (Wisdom 7:7-12).

10 posted on 11/25/2006 9:18:07 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

BTTT on the Optional Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, November 25, 2006!

11 posted on 11/25/2006 9:21:43 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Gail Buckley  
Other Articles by Gail Buckley
St. Catherine of Alexandria

November 25, 2006

 It is thought that the most reliable account that we have of this saint comes from the writings of the Church historian Eusebius. He related as follows:

There was a certain woman, a Christian, and the richest and most noble of all the ladies of Alexandria, who when the rest suffered themselves to be deflowered by the tyrant [Maximinus], resisted and vanquished his unbounded and worse than beastly lust. This lady was most illustrious for her high birth and great wealth, and likewise for her singular learning: but she preferred her virtue and her chastity to all worldly advantages. The tyrant, having in vain made several assaults upon her virtue, would not behead her, seeing her ready to die, but stripped her of all her estates and goods and sent her into banishment.

It is said that St. Catherine was born in Alexandria of a patrician family and was converted to Christianity by a vision. She denounced Emperor Maximinus in person for his persecution of Christians. When fifty pagan philosophers were converted by her arguments, he had them burned to death. When she refused his bribe of a royal marriage if she would denounce Christianity, he had her imprisoned. On his return home from a camp inspection, he found that his wife, an officer and two hundred soldiers had been converted. He had them all put to death. He then condemned Catherine to death on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel miraculously broke, he had her beheaded. Her body is said to have been taken to the monastery of Mount Sinai, where it reputedly still is.

Lessons from St. Catherine

Catherine was one of the fourteen Holy Helpers, was one of the voices heard by Joan of Arc, and is the patroness of philosophers, maidens, and preachers.

Prayer St. Catherine, pray for us that we may be bold in testifying to our love of Jesus no matter what the cost — whether it be loss of material wealth or loss of our lives. Amen.


12 posted on 11/25/2006 1:22:56 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Kolokotronis
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr
Optional Memorial
November 25th

Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina
Saint Catherine (detail)
1505 - 1510
Museo del Prado, Madrid


Glorious Saint Catherine, virgin and martyr,
help me to imitate your love of purity.
Give me strength and courage
in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.

Help me to love God with my whole heart
and serve Him faithfully.

O Saint Catherine,
through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ,
help me to be loyal to my faith and my God
as long as I live.


Patron saint of young women, millers, philosophers, preachers, spinners, students and wheelwrights.

In fourth century Alexandria, there lived a Christian noblewoman and philosopher of great beauty named Catherine. When she heard that the Roman emperor Maxentius was persecuting Christians, Catherine publicly protested. Astounded by her audacity, Maxentius sent fifty famous philosophers to try to change her mind, but Catherine, with her clever arguments, converted every one of them to Christianity. Maxentius immediately ordered their execution.

The emperor then tried to persuade Catherine to become his bride. Catherine refused, saying that she was already a bride of Christ. This answer drove Maxentius into a fury, and he commanded that she be tortured on the infamous spiked wheel (later called the "Catherine wheel"). But angels are said to have thrown bolts of lightning so that the wheel broke and the spikes flew off, injuring onlookers but leaving Catherine unharmed. When she was eventually beheaded, milk, not blood, flowed from her neck, and angels carried her body up to Mount Sinai.

(Source: Carol Armstrong. Lives and Legends of the Saints. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.)

St. Catherine Hearts
Les Coeurs de Sainte Catherine

In northern France, there is an old custom, on St Catherine's Day heart-shaped cakes are given to young women who have reached age twenty-five and are not married to encourage them in their search for love.

You need a 1-quart heart shaped pan for this.
Butter or shortening for greasing the pan
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup mixed candied fruit
1/2 orange extract
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
3 tablespoons water
Optional: Confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter and flour the baking pan.

Cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, mixing well; beat in the eggs, one at a time. Resift the flour with the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Stir the flour into the butter mixture. Stir in the fruits, orange extract, and orange rind, and the water. Mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, then raise the heat to 425°F and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a straw inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the pan when cool.

Optional: sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Yield: 1 cake

from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz, originally published by Harper & Row in 1995, now available in paperback from Ignatius Press.

Collect: From the Common of Martyrs

First Reading: Revelation 21:5-7
And He who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also He said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:28-33
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.

13 posted on 11/25/2009 7:48:00 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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