FEast: Nov. 25th
Patron of: students, unmarried women, archivists, secretaries, librarians,
Catherine was born around the year 287 in Alexandria, Egypt. Unfortunately, we don't have any primary sources left that tell her story, but she is so widely known worldwide that we have several legends of her existence.
It is told that when Catherine was about 14-18 years old, she converted to Christianity. She was the daughter of a noble family and had a very thorough education, but this change led her to study and learn even more about theology and philosophy.
Outraged at the Emperor Maxentius' persecution and murder of Christians, she decided to confront him herself while still very young and tell him that what he was doing was violent and wrong.
Unwilling to be told this by a young girl, Maxentius decided to round up all the best scholars and philosophers he knew to debate her, rather than just putting her to death immediately for her crime of being a Christian.
To everyone's surprise, Catherine won the debate against 50 or more elderly male philosophers who were famous throughout for their intelligence. Because they were so amazed by what Catherine had to say, many of those philosophers converted, and they were executed immediately.
Even more enraged by Catherine, Maxentius had her beaten and thrown in jail. His wife, curious about what Catherine could possibly have to say, visited her in jail and listened to her speak about Jesus. The empress converted then and there as well, and even she was put to death, with Maxentius unwilling to go back on his law even for her.
Members of the army had gone with her and many of them converted - and were martyred - as well.
With this serious blow, Maxentius ordered Catherine to be put to death on a wheel that was covered in spikes. However, the story goes that when Catherine touched it, it shattered. Another version states that she was tortured by it, but not killed, and did not renounce her faith despite the extreme pain and injury.
Maxentius then gave her one more chance and offered her the role of empress should she give up her faith - and yet she would not. She was finally beheaded.
In the middle ages, she was an extremely popular saint, and was even one of the saints St. Joan of Arc heard when telling her about her mission.
Knowledge was your power, proclamation of faith, & brave stand against the powerful in your society. Though you were But an underestimated young woman, you were able to create so much change in the hearts of so many people with your fearless debate. Give us that same strength to change our own communities with knowledge.
I wanted an expression for Catherine that was as wary as it was determined. Though she was fearless in her debate and profession of faith, she was still only a young woman having to face many older men who were so convinced of what they already believed that it's amazing they even listened to her. She reminded me so much of a few women I knew in high school who would debate older, male professors when they did not agree. I used a few of them for references for Catherine.