St. Catharine of Alexandria
Feast Day: November 25
Patron Saint of: philosophers, lawyers, librarians, teachers and students
Catharine was born in Egypt in the fourth century. According to tradition, she was born from a noble family and converted to Christianity following a vision of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus. Catharine was very intelligent, always devoting herself to her studies and specializing in the sciences.
When the Emperor Maxentius began his persecution of Christians, Catherine who was eighteen at the time, presented herself before him and offered to debate 50 of his pagan philosophers. Catharine won the debate and the pagan philosophers converted to Christianity. These philosophers were put to death and Catharine was put in prison.
While in prison, she was visited by the Emperor’s wife who had heard so many stories about Catharine. Along with high officials and the guards, the Emperor’s wife believed in Catharine’s teachings and thus were all converted and baptized. The Emperor, having heard this, had them all put to death.
The Emperor sentenced Catharine to be tortured and put to death on a spiked wheel. As Catharine approached the wheel and touch it, the spiked wheel miraculously broke apart. Catharine died as a martyr beheaded with a sword.
Legend tells us that Catharine’s body was taken by angels to Mount Sinai where years later a church and a monastery were built in her honor. Catharine is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.