St. Catherine of Alexandria
Virgin, Martyr (4th cent)
Usually numbered among early women martyrs, Catherine of Alexandria holds a special place among the prophetic saints in the Church because of her role as philosophical defender of the faith. She is also the patroness of Christian philosophers.
In Church art, Catherine of Alexandria is depicted wearing a crown (royal birth), holding a book (knowledge), and Steering a spiked wheel (Martyrdom). And here's why!
According to tradition, Catherine, born of a noble family of Alexandria, was an extremely learned girl. Converted by a vision of Our Lady, she dared to protest the persecution of the Christians under the Roman emperor Maxentius. Unable to refute the arguments she raised with him directly, the emperor had a battery of some 50 eminent philosophers assembled to counter her views. However, their admittance of defeat before her prowess rung the death-knell both for them and for her - they were burned alive while she was put in prison where she succeeded in converting not only the gaolers but the emperor's wife, Faustina as well as a result she was sentenced to death by means of being fastened to a spiked wheel. The wheel mysteriously broke apart, leaving Catherine miraculously unscathed - which is why she is also known as the patroness of wheelwrights. She was finally beheaded and Angels are said to have taken her remains atop Mount Sinai, where they were discovered in c.800.
Reflection :"Anybody who wants to reach paradise must share in the fruits of the redemption, in the fruits of the cross. Jesus says "I am the Good Shepherd and I give my life for my sheep". This is charity. How much love did Jesus have for us? The Gospel says: "having loved those who were his own in the world, he loved them to the end". The final sign of his love is that which impelled him to die for us on the cross and to leave himself as food for our souls"(Blessed James Alberione).