Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. When Joan of Arc received messages from heaven, it was Catherine’s voice that she heard.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria is a patron saint of students of philosophy because she went toe-to-toe with the greatest minds of her age and converted them to Christianity at the tender age of eighteen.
Very little of her life is known with certainty. The chief story that has been handed down to us reports that Catherine was born into a well-to-do family living in Alexandria at the beginning of the fourth century and dedicated her life to education. Her studies led her to consider the truth about Christianity, and when she received a vision of Mary holding the child Jesus, she converted to the faith.
When the emperor Maxentius began persecuting Christians, Catherine visited him and rebuked his decision, even though she was just a teenager. Catherine began to argue with the emperor in defense of Christianity. Maxentius could not respond to Catherine’s arguments, so he gathered fifty learned philosophers to oppose her. When her reasoning converted them, Maxentius was enraged. He tried to seduce her and make her part of his court, but she refused and was beaten and imprisoned.
She continued to convert people who came to visit her in prison, including the Maxentius’ wife, and so Catherine was condemned to die upon a spiked wheel. When she was placed upon it, her hands were miraculously freed and the wheel shattered. She was then beheaded.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria is a patron saint of philosophers, preachers, students—particularly women studying in higher education, and those who work with wheels or mills.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of students and Christian philosophers—pray for us!
Heaven is our Goal.