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Alexandria

   
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St. Catherine of Alexandria

Summary

Legend says that St. Catherine of Alexandria studied philosophy when she was young as was fashionable in Alexandria's high society. During the course of her studies she learned about Christ. Then Catherine was converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child. She refused marriage to an emperor because Christ had already appeared to her in person and placed his gold ring on her finger (like St. Catherine of Siena). She later received a vision of Christ in prison.

 

Timeline

c. 292

The acta of St. Catherine, which are considered untrustworthy, say she was the daughter of king Costos of Cyprus, who had been called to Alexandria to be a counselor to Emperor Maximinus.

c. 305

Philosophy was very fashionable in Alexandria's high society and Catherine was devoted to study, so that she had a good dose of it before she reached 18. During the course of her studies she learned about Christ. Then Catherine was converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child.

c. 310

When Emperor Maximinus began his persecutions, the 18-year-old Catherine, who was very beautiful, went to the emperor and rebuked him for his tyranny as he stood in the middle of a pagan temple. Unable to answer her arguments, he called in fifty philosophers to confront her. After they admitted themselves to be convinced by her arguments, the furious emperor sentenced them to be burned. The emperor offered to marry her, but she refused because Christ had already appeared to her in person and placed his gold ring on her finger (like St. Catherine of Siena); for this reason Greek Christians call her 'Ækatharina,' that is, 'ever pure.' She was beaten for two solid hours and then imprisoned, and the emperor departed to inspect a camp. In her cell she was fed by a dove, and Christ appeared to her in a vision. When he returned, he found that his wife, Faustina, and an officer, Porphyrius, had gone to visit Catherine out of curiosity and were converted, and that Porphyrius had converted 200 men of the imperial guard. All were condemned to death. Catherine was sentenced to be killed by means of a wheel set with spikes or razors, now known as "St. Catherine's wheel." When she was placed upon its rim, her bonds were miraculously loosened, the wheel broke, and the spikes flew off, killing onlookers. Finally, she was beheaded, as she called down blessings on all who should remember her. From her severed veins flowed a white, milk-like liquid instead of blood. It is claimed that for many years oil oozed from her bones; this oil was prized as medicine and for lamps in holy sanctuaries.

527

Emperor Justinian built a fortified monastery for the hermits of Mt. Sinai, and the body of Catherine is supposed to have been taken there in the 8th or 9th century; since then it has borne her name.

c. 1000

Simeon, a monk of Sinai, went to Rouen to receive an annual alms of Duke Richard of Normandy. He brought with him some of Catherine's relics, which he left there.

c. 1300

She was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who were highly venerated individually and as a group during the Middle Ages.

1424

Saint Joan of Arc heard and faithfully followed the voice of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. Perhaps the Lord gave Catherine to Joan to help her in her debate with the famous theologians.

310

Catherine is martyred at Alexandria under Maximinus Daza (5)

542

Construction of the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai begins. It is renowned as being the oldest continuously occupied monastery in Christendom. Yet it was first dedicated not to St. Catherine but to the Transfiguration of Jesus.

c. 850

Guided by a dream, the monks of this monastery found on the mountain the body of a woman, whom they took to be Saint Catherine - a body presumably miraculously flown there from Alexandria. Falconius, archbishop of San Severino, speaks of the translation of the body of Catherine to the top of Mount Sinai. "As to what is said, that the body of this saint was conveyed by angels to Mount Sinai, the meaning is that it was carried by the monks of Sinai to their rich dwelling with such a treasure-It is well known that the name of an angelic habit, and that monks, on account of their heavenly purity and functions, were anciently called 'angels'" (1).

1969

Because of the fabulous character of the account of her martyrdom and the lack of reliable documentation, the Roman Catholic Church removed her feast day from the General Roman Calendar.

2002

Her feast was restored to the General Roman Calendar as an optional memorial.

Miracles, Cures, and Signs

According to legend, at her martyrdom white, milk-like liquid flowed from her severed veins instead of blood. It is claimed that for many years oil oozed from her bones; this oil was prized as medicine and for lamps in holy sanctuaries.


Approval

The visions of St. Catherine of Alexandria have never been investigated or approved. Her Feast Day is November 25th. St. Catherine is patroness of philosophers, students (esp. female students), Christian apologists, librarians and libraries, young women, and wheelwrights. She is patroness of saddlers, spinsters, rope-makers (2), lawyers, and preachers (4). She is the patroness of nurses because when she bled, her blood was said to be milk (6).

Because of the fabulous character of the account of her martyrdom and the lack of reliable documentation, the Roman Catholic Church in 1969 removed her feast day from the General Roman Calendar. But she continued to be commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on November 25. In 2002, her feast was restored to the General Roman Calendar as an optional memorial.


Books

1. Husenbeth
2. Roeder
3. Encyclopaedia Brittanica
4. Delaney
5. Eusebius. History of the Church (viii, c. 14)
6. White


Links


Wikipedia - St. Catherine of Siena
New Advent - St. Catherine of Siena
Catholic Online - Saints

 
   
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