One of the fourteen holy helpers
The daughter of a pagan governor of Alexandria one day announced to her parents that she would only marry someone who surpassed her in intelligence, status, beauty and wealth. This is interpreted as an early foreshadow of her eventual discovery of Christ, whose beauty was more radiant than the sun, wisdom governed all creation and his riches spread throughout the entire world.
At this young age no one knew that she would achieve great things including becoming a Saint as well as one of the fourteen holy helpers sought by the faithful as intercessor whenever a faithful prayer needed help from sudden death and childbirth. Her name was Catherine and she is also known as Catherine of the Wheel. She grew up to become a great scholar, a martyr and a Christian Saint.
She was born in Alexandria and grew up pagan only to later convert to Christianity in her teens. Legend has it said of how she visited here contemporary, that Roman Emperor Maximinus, where she tried to convert him and convince him of the moral error in persecuting Christians. She successfully managed to convert his wife, the Empress and numerous pagan philosophers whom the emperor sent to argue with her, all of who were subsequently martyred.
When they failed to convince Catherine to denounce her faith, Maximinus ordered her imprisonment and those who visited her were murdered if they converted. Their murders were conducted on the breaking wheel, an instrument of torture according to legend. This object broke itself down when Saint Catherine touched it. She was beheaded.
Her day the November 25th and how she protects you against sudden death.
As one of the most influential saints in religious culture during the middle ages, she is considered the most important among the virgin martyrs. Not only is she venerated as one of the fourteen helper intercessors when believers are in trouble, she also pleaded with the almighty God during her execution to answer the prayers of those who invoked her name.
She is the patron saint for protection against sudden death, women in trouble and childbirth.
John Mandeville and Friar Felix Fabri chronicled her journey to the Mount Sinai and the monastery at Mount Sinai was the best known site of Catherine pilgrimage and was very difficult to reach. Western shrines dedicated to Catherine have included the one at Rouen, Canterbury and Westminster which have claimed a phial of her oil brought back from Mount Sinai by Edward the Confessor.
Saint Catherine had a big female following. The crucial factor of the virgin martyrs was the focus of devotional almost always expressed through pilgrimage increased in the late middle ages in which Saint Catherine was used as prime example for women, a state which sometimes overwhelmed her intercessory role.
Saint Catherine is said to have been highly learned in philosophy and theology, very beautiful, sexually pure and was murdered for stating her faith in public. Owing to her fabulous character on the account of her martyrdom, the Roman Catholic Church removed her feast day from the General Roman Calendar but continued to commemorate her in Roman Martyrology on November 25th. In 2002, her feast became restored to the General Roman calendar as an optional memorial.
A ring is usually given to pilgrims who visit her monastery on Mt. Sinai, a ring which has been placed on the relics of the saint as a blessing in remembrance of the visit. Her intersession is invoked for relief and assistance during child birth, as well as protection from sudden death.
Charles Manston Historical Researcher D.I.L.
- Julia D Palmer
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