Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Facts

Feastday: November 25

Patron of students, unmarried girls, apologists

Birth: 287

Death: 305


Saint Catherine of Alexandria is a canonized saint in the Catholic Church who, per Christian tradition, was martyred around 305 in Alexandria, Egypt. Of course, the Church of the first Millennium was undivided. She is also recognized as the Great Martyr and Saint by the Orthodox Church. There are no surviving primary sources attesting to her existence, but the fact that her memory, and the stories about her, have been kept alive - and handed down in the tradition - certainly confirm her existence, and her life of heroic virtue and holiness.

The young saint was born around 287 in Alexandria, Egypt. At that time, Alexandria was one of the finest cities in the world, and a center of learning and culture as well as faith.

Christian tradition states she was of noble birth, possibly a princess. As a member of the nobility, she was also educated and was an avid scholar. Around the age of fourteen, she experienced a moving vision of Mary and the infant Jesus, and she decided to become a Christian.

Although she was a teenager, she was very intelligent and gifted. When the emperor Maxentius began persecuting Christians, Catherine visited him to denounce his cruelty.

Rather than order her execution, Maxentius summoned fifty orators and philosophers to debate her. However, Catherine was moved by the power of the Holy Spirit and spoke eloquently in defense of her faith. Her words were so moving that several of the pagans converted to Christianity and were immediately executed.

Unable to defeat her rhetorically or to intimidate her into giving up her belief, the emperor ordered her to be tortured and imprisoned.

Catherine was arrested and scourged. Despite the torture, she did not abandon her faith. Word of her arrest and the power of her faith quickly spread and over 200 people visited her. According to some legends, the emperor's own wife, Valeria Maximilla was converted by Catherine. The emperor eventually executed his own wife over her conversion. However, this is not mentioned in the historical record and may be a legend. It is believed that Maximilla was alive and with her husband at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, seven years after the death of Catherina.

Following her imprisonment, Maxentius made a final attempt to persuade the beautiful Catherine to abandon her faith by proposing marriage to her. This would have made her a powerful empress. Catherine refused, saying she was married to Jesus Christ and that her virginity was dedicated to him.

The emperor angrily ordered her to be executed on a breaking wheel. The breaking wheel is an ancient form of torture where a person's limbs are threaded among the spokes and their bones are shattered by an executioner with a heavy rod. It is a brutal punishment that results in a slow and painful death, normally reserved for the worst criminals.

When Catherine was presented before the wheel, she touched it and a miracle occurred that caused the wheel to shatter.

Unable to torture her to death, the emperor simply ordered her beheaded.

One account claimed that angels took her body to Mt. Sinai. In the sixth century, the Emperor Justinian ordered a monastery established in her name. The monastery, Saint Catherine's, remains to this day and is one of the oldest in the world.

Around the year 800, a legend spread that her body has been found with her hair still growing and a constant stream of oil coming from her body. Nothing exists to this day of her remains, and her very existence has been called into question.

Despite these questions, and the possibility that her story may be confused with that of one or more other saints, she is still venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as a Martyr. Many Roman Catholics also venerate her to this day as one of the great virgin saints of the early Church.

During the medieval period, St. Catherine was one of the most famous saints of the Church. She has was a popular subject in renaissance art and many paintings from the period are dedicated to her.

Catherine is still a very popular Catholic name.

The spiked wheel is a popular symbol often associated with St. Catherine.

Her feast day is Nov. 25, and she is the patron of a great many professions and causes. Her patronage includes students, unmarried girls, apologists and many more as well as many places around the world.


More about St. Catherine of Alexandria from Wikipedia

St. Catherine of Alexandria Comments



More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

67.

Image of Sts. Joachim and Anne

Sts. Joachim and Anne

Saints Joaquin (sometimes spelled "Joachim," pronounced "wal-keem") and Anne, are the parents of the Virgin Mary. There are no mentions of them in the Bible or Gospels, what we know comes ... continue reading

68.

Image of St. Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. Following the early death of his father, ... continue reading

69.

Image of St. Abigail

St. Abigail

St. Abigail, more commonly known as St. Gobnait or Deborah, was a medieval Irish saint born around the 6th century in County Clare, Ireland. According to tradition, Abigail's family was ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Margaret of Cortona

St. Margaret of Cortona

Margaret of Cortona, penitent, was born in Loviana in Tuscany in 1247. Her father was a small farmer. Margaret's mother died when she was seven years old. Her stepmother had little care for her ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day
February 2017
S M T W T F S
1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Barbara

St. Barbara

Saint Barbara, also known as the Great Martyr Barbara, was an early Christian Greek martyr born mid-third century in Heliopolis, Phoenicia. Barbara was the daughter to a rich pagan named Dioscorus. After the death of Barbara's mother, Dioscorus dedicated his life to ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier was a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre on April 7, 1506. His father was a privy counselor and finance minister to King John III of Navarre. He was the youngest in his family and resided in a castle which still ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for Bl. Miguel Pro

Bl. Miguel Pro

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez. Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in hi mischievousness, ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Let us remember to give thanks for this day the Lord has made.

Quotes of the Saints - Five saints have a message for you on this Thanksgiving holiday

By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)

If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His blessings. If you are not American, today's holiday is a reminder that God deserves thanks from all His creation. We pray you will ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 5:1-4
1 I urge the elders among you, as a fellow-elder myself and a witness to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.2 In ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 16:13-19
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 22nd, 2017 Image

St. Margaret of Cortona
February 22: Margaret of Cortona, penitent, was born in ... Read More