Virgin, Martyr, Patroness of Students and Young Girls
(† Fourth Century)
Catherine was a noble virgin of ALEXANDRIA, born in the fourth century. Before her Baptism, she saw in a DREAM the Blessed Virgin asking Her Son to receive her among His servants, but the Divine Infant turned away, saying she was not yet regenerated by the waters of Baptism.
She made haste to receive that sacrament, and afterwards, when the dream was repeated, Catherine saw that the Saviour received her with great affection, and espoused her before the court of heaven, with a fine ring.
She woke with it on her finger.
She had a very active intelligence, fit for all matters, and she undertook the study of philosophy and theology. At that time there were schools in Alexandria for the instruction of Christians, where excellent Christian scholars taught. She made great progress and became able to sustain the truths of our religion against even very subtle sophists. At that time Maximinus II was SHARING the empire with Constantine the Great and Licinius, and had as his district Egypt; and this cruel Christian-hater ordinarily resided in Alexandria, capital of the province. He announced a gigantic pagan sacrifice, such that the very air would be darkened with the smoke of the bulls and sheep immolated on the altars of the gods. Catherine before this event strove to strengthen the Christians against the fatal lures, repeating that the oracles vaunted by the infidels were pure illusion, originating in the depths of the lower regions.
She foresaw that soon it would be the Christians’ turn to be immolated, when they refused to participate in the ceremonies. She therefore went to the EMPEROR himself, asking to speak with him, and her singular beauty and majestic air won an audience for her. She said to him that it was a strange thing that he should by his example attract so many peoples to such an abominable cult.
By his high office he was obliged to turn them away from it, since reason itself shows us that there can be only one sovereign Being, the first principle of all else.
She begged him to cease so great a disorder by giving the true God the honor due Him, lest he reap the wages of his indifference in this life already, as well as in the next.
The consequences of her hardy act extended over a certain time; he decided to call in fifty sophists of his suite, to bring back this virgin from her errors. A large audience assembled to hear the debate; the emperor sat on his throne with his entire court, dissimulating his rage.
Catherine began by saying she was surprised that he obliged her to face, alone, fifty individuals, but she asked the grace of him, that if the true God she adored rendered her victorious, he would adopt her RELIGION and renounce the cult of the demons. He was not pleased and replied that it was not for her to lay down conditions for the discussion.
The head of the sophists began the orations and reprimanded her for opposing the authority of poets, orators and philosophers, who unanimously had revered Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva and others. He cited their writings, and said she should consider that these persons were far anterior to this new religion she was following.
She listened carefully before answering, then spoke, showing that the ridiculous fables which Homer, Orpheus and other poets had invented concerning their divinities, and the fact that many offered a cult to them, as well as the abominable crimes attributed to them, proved them to be gods only in the opinion of the untutored and credulous.
And then she proved that the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures had clearly announced the time and the circumstances of the life of the future Saviour, and that these were now fulfilled.
Prodigy; the head of the sophists avowed that she was entirely correct and renounced his errors; the others said they could not oppose their chief.
Maximinus had them put to death by fire, but the fire did not consume their remains.
Thus they died as Christians, receiving the Baptism of blood.
The story of Saint Catherine continues during the time of the emperor’s efforts to persuade her to marry him; he put to death his converted wife and the captain of his guards who had received Baptism with two hundred of his soldiers.
He delivered Catherine up to prison and then to tortures as a result of her firmness in refusing his overtures.
The famous wheel of Saint Catherine — in reality several interacting wheels — which he invented to torment her, was furnished with sharp razor blades and sharp points of iron; all who saw it trembled.
But as soon as it was set in movement it was miraculously disjointed and broken into pieces, and these pieces flew in all directions and wounded the spectators.
The barbaric emperor finally COMMANDED that she be decapitated; and she offered her neck to the executioner, after praying that her mortal remains would be respected.
The story of Saint Catherine continues with the discovery of the intact body of a young and beautiful girl on Mount Sinai in the ninth century, that is, four centuries later.
The Church, in the Collect of her feast day, bears witness to the transport of her body.
A number of proofs testified to the identity of her mortal remains found in the region of the famous monastery existing on that mountain since the fifth century.
“While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” -Luke 21:5-11.
“When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” -Luke 21:1-4.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” -Matthew 25:31-46.
“Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’
Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.”
And they no longer dared to ask him anything.” -Luke 20:27-40.