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Friday, November 25, 2011

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Catherine of Alexandria, since the tenth century, hath been held in great veneration, and that more in the West than in the East. She is esteemed as the Patroness of learned folk and of wheel-wrights and millers, and the Dominicans have adopted her as one of their Patrons. Her fame is as follows. She was a noble maiden of Alexandria who became, through her studies, a very learned woman, and prevailed over the chief wits of the day. * And she went boldly to Maxentius, and rebuked him for his savage cruelty toward Christians, bringing forward likewise most sage reasons why the Faith of Christ should be needful for salvation. Maxentius marveled at her wisdom, and detained her, whilst he gathered together the most learned men from all quarters, and offered them great rewards if they could confute Catherine, and bring her to worship idols. But the event fell contrariwise, for many of the philosophers who had come to dispute with her were overcome by the force and skill of her reasoning, so that the love of Christ Jesus was kindled in them, and they were content even to die for his sake. Then did Maxentius strive to beguile Catherine with fair words and promises, and when he found it was lost pains, he caused her to be cast into prison and starved. * Afterwards Catherine was brought out of the ward, and a wheel was set, wherein were fastened many and sharp blades, so that her virgin body might be most direfully cut and torn in pieces. But when it was set in motion it flew to pieces, which so enraged Maxentius that he forthwith commanded to behead Catherine. So, on November 25, about the year 310, she attained the twin crowns of martyrdom and virginity. It is said that her body was carried by Angels to Mount Sinai, and there enshrined, in the famous monastery called by her name. And this by some writers is interpreted to mean that it was carried thither by the monks of Sinai, to be their great treasure, for of old times the monastic habit was known as the angelical habit, and those that wore the same were sometimes given the honorific title of Angel, to signify that state of heavenly worship wherein they should live.

O God, who on Mount Sinai didst give the law to Moses, and afterwards, through the ministry of holy Angels, didst mystically give rest thereon to the body of blessed Catherine thy Virgin and Martyr : grant, we beseech thee, that by her intercession, we may be brought unto that mountain which is Christ, by the same thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

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