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Catherine of Alexandria, Saint

marriage wheel century pagan

The immensely popular but historically dubious virgin martyr Catherine of Alexandria enraged the emperor Maxentius by denouncing him for his persecution of Christians and by converting his wife and 200 of his soldiers to Christianity. She argued successfully for her faith with fifty pagan philosophers who converted and then were executed by Maxentius. She refused an offer of a royal marriage, stating that she was the bride of *Christ. She was tortured on a wheel fitted with iron spokes, but the wheel was destroyed by a lightning bolt. Eventually she was decapitated. *Angels transported her body to *Mount Sinai. The stories about Saint Catherine date to the eighth or ninth century and were greatly expanded in the thirteenth century * Golden Legend . She appears frequently in medieval art, often identifiable by her wheel, the sword of execution, and the ring of her marriage to Christ. The mystic marriage of Saint Catherine is represented by the infant Jesus held on *Mary’s lap offering Catherine a ring. She is also often shown with books and other symbols of learning or debating with the pagan philosophers.
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