Catherine of Alexandria  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine is a Christian saint and martyr who is claimed to have been a noted scholar in the early 4th century. In the beginning of the fifteenth century, it was rumored that she had spoken to Saint Joan of Arc. The Orthodox Churches venerate her as a "great martyr", and in the Catholic Church she is traditionally revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

What is told of Saint Catherine's life is mostly composed of legends which have many different variations, and have little historical basis. The most popular version is that Catherine was the daughter of Costus, governor of Alexandria. She announced to her parents that she would only marry someone who surpassed her in everything, such that "His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world."

Life and legend

Catherine was born in Alexandria and raised a pagan, but converted to Christianity in her late teens. It is said that she visited her contemporary, the Roman Emperor Maxentius, and attempted to convince him of the moral error in persecuting Christians. She succeeded in converting his wife, the Empress, and many pagan philosophers whom the Emperor sent to dispute with her, all of whom were subsequently martyred. Upon the failure of the Emperor to win Catherine over, he ordered her to be put in prison; and when the people who visited her converted, she was condemned to death on the breaking wheel, an instrument of torture. According to legend, the wheel itself broke when she touched it, so she was beheaded.

According to Christian tradition, angels carried her body to Mount Sinai, where, in the 6th century, the Eastern Emperor Justinian established Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, the church being built between 548 and 565 in Saint Catherine, Egypt, on the Sinai peninsula. Saint Catherine's Monastery survives, a famous repository of early Christian art, architecture and illuminated manuscripts that is still open to visiting scholars.

Her principal symbol is the spiked wheel, which has become known as the Catherine wheel, and her feast day is celebrated on 25 November by most Christian churches. However, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates it on 24 November, because Empress Catherine the Great did not wish to share her patronal feast with the Leavetaking of the feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos. Because she was Catherine the Great's patron, the Catholic Church of St. Catherine, one of the first Roman Catholic churches built in Russia, was named after Catherine of Alexandria.

In art

Fernando Gallego does Catherine of Alexandria[1], like Martirio di S.Caterina[2] by Lelio Orsi, see art horror

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Catherine of Alexandria" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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