Today is our saint day. In case you missed the last few installments, head there and have a look!
Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian, is blogging about St. Cecilia and I am taking a Dominican saint again , with St. Catherine of Alexandria. Please head over for her installment as her saint is very much connected to mine today – as we were both very surprised to find for these posts. It’s truly amazing how we’re all so connected!
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (c. 282 – c. 305) is one of the Patronesses of the Order of Preachers. Born of noble blood and well educated in the sciences, she is one of the fourteen Holy Helpers (The others are: St. Acacius, St. Barbara, St. Blaise, St. Christopher , St. Cyriacus, St. Dionysius of Paris, St. Erasmus, St. Eustace, St. George, St. Margaret, St. Pantaleon, St. Vitus and St. Giles. This feast was suppressed in 1969.). As a young woman of about eighteen, she gave herself to Catholicism and was a defender of the faith and Church teachings in a debate against Emperor Maxim’s 50 philosophers. The Emperor was obviously upset, and imprisoned her. During her imprisonment, she converted the Emperess and those philosophers she converted in the debate. The Emperor sentenced her to die on a spiked wheel. Touching the wheel, St. Catherine of Alexandria shattered it. The second time the Emperor succeeded and had her beheaded.
St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of apologists, lawyers, librarians, libraries, maidens, philosophers, students, teachers and preachers to name but a few.
A few of the symbols attributed to St. Catherine of Alexandria are broken wheels, a sword, a crown at her feet a book and woman arguing with pagan philosophers.
The subject of many artists, I chose this one by Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina
In researching this saint, I found out that she is part of the vision St. Dominic had as he was praying from (Lives of the Brethren, part 3, ch. 7):
“Once when St. Dominic was passing the night in the church in prayer, about midnight he went out and entered the dormitory. After looking at his brethren he resumed his prayer at the entrance of the dormitory. While standing erect as he prayed, he chanced to glance to the other end of the dormitory and saw three very comely ladies advancing towards him, of whom the central figure seemed to be a lady more dignified and of higher rank than the others.
One of the two attendants carried a beautiful and resplendent vessel of holy water, and the other a sprinkler, which she presented to the third who walked between them. This one sprinkled the brethren and blessed them, but as she passed along doing so there was one friar whom she neither blessed nor sprinkled.
St. Dominic observed this attentively, and noting whom it was, followed the lady as far as the lamp which hung in the middle of the dormitory: there he threw himself at her feet and began earnestly to beg her to say who she was, although he knew very well all the while. Now at that time the beautiful and devout anthem, the Salve Regina, was not sung in the convents of our brethren and sisters in Rome, but merely said kneeling. Then the lady addressed St. Dominic and said: ‘I am she whom you greet every evening, and when you say “Turn then our Advocate,” I prostrate myself before my Son for the preservation of this Order.’
St. Dominic then enquired who her companions might be, whereunto she made answer: ‘One of them is Cecilia and the other Catherine.’ Upon this St. Dominic made further enquiry touching the brother whom she had passed by, and why she had neither sprinkled nor blest him with the rest: at this she answered: ‘Simply because he was unworthy of it.’ Then she resumed sprinkling and blessing the remaining friars, and went away.”
St. Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us.