The Catholic Defender: St. Catherine of Alexandria
The Roman Empire during the time of St. Catherine of Alexandria was ruled by power and an evil Roman Emperor, Diocletian (284 to 305). Diocletian expanded the influence of the Roman Empire creating a bureaucracy that became a swamp of corruption. In 303 A.D., the "Diocletian Persecution" (303-311) is remembered as the last of the 10 Roman Persecutions, it was the most cruelest, persecution of Christians in history.
This was the environment that St. Catherine of Alexandria had lived her life. She was born in Alexandria Egypt around 287 A.D. of noble birth. Her father was ruling Governor of Alexandria giving St. Catherine the best education and traditionally believed to be a princess.
When St. Catherine was 14 years old, when suitors first began asking for her hand in marriage, the one time princess vowed that he would be the most richly endowed young man, even more than herself. This young man would also have to be a noble with greater rank than her own, and he would have to be the most handsome prince in the land.
The locals became disheartened none of them came close to fulfilling Catherine's expectations. One day a hermit who lived in the surrounding desert came knocking on her door asking to see Catherine who at first was surprised to see such a sight. Perhaps her curiosity had the best of her as she met with the older man claiming that he had a message for her of the most noblest of
them all. That the Queen of Heaven sent him to her with the message that her Divine Son was the Spouse she desired.
Before leaving, the hermit gave a painting of Jesus and Mary to Catherine who upon gazing on the face of Jesus, she fell in love with this most noble man.
This image of Jesus consumed Catherine's imagination until one night the Queen of Heaven appeared to her in a dream accompanied into a Church sanctuary. Angels greeted her as she fell face down before the sanctuary.
The Angelic presence instructed her, "Rise dear sister Catherine, for the King of glory delighteth to honor thee." Upon rising, Catherine followed the Angels to the presence of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven. The whole surrounding was the most amazing thing, the Queen of Heaven surrounded by the Angels
After being welcomed by the Virgin Mary, Catherine was lead to Jesus but he turned from her saying, "She is not fair and beautiful enough for me"
With that the vision was gone leaving Catherine weeping bitterly through the night. Catherine sent for the hermit whom she asked what would make her worthy of Jesus as her Heavenly Bridegroom. The hermit instructed her into the one true Catholic Faith who baptized both Catherine and her mother.
The night of her Baptism, the Virgin Mary appears to Catherine once again this time Jesus says to her, "Behold, she has been regenerated in the water of Baptism." With this, Jesus smiled at Catherine placing a ring on her finger. This ring she wore the rest of her life.
The Emperor Maxentius began a horrific persecution of Christians that led St. Catherine to approach him denouncing his cruelty.
The Emperor attempted to have his top fifty known philosophers and speakers to debate her but none could compete with the power of the Holy Spirit who began converting the very speakers and philosophers sent to her.
The Emperor then ordered for St. Catherine to be imprisoned to be tortured which only deepened her resolve to follow Christ. To make matters worse for the Emperor, his own wife, Valeria Maximilla was converted along with 200 more people visiting her.
Maxentius deposed his own wife as word was sent out that he executed his wife, but later, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, Valeria was present with Maxentius.
Finally, when all Maxentius attempts failed to convince the beautiful Catherine to abandon the Catholic Faith, attempted to marry her himself, but he was refused saying that she was married to Jesus Christ and that her virginity was dedicated to him.
With this rejection, Maxentius ordered Catherine to be executed on a breaking wheel. This torture places the limbs of a person threading the spokes of the wheel ultimately shattering the bones with a heavy rod. It was brutal, slow, and painful normally reserved to the worst criminals.
When St. Catherine was brought before the wheel, she touched the wheel causing the wheel to shatter. The wheel was consumed by fire and the fragments flying around killed the executioners and many spectators leading to more conversions. Unable to use the wheel of torture, Maxentius ordered for Catherine to be beheaded. The sentence was carried into effect on November 25, 307.
With her death, it was witnessed that angels took her body to Mount Sinai. In the sixth century, the Emperor Justinian ordered the building of a monastery to be built on Mount Sinai in honor of St. Catherine, which still stands today as the oldest in the world.
In 800 A.D., word spread that her body was found incorrupt with her hair still growing and her flesh was still excreting oil as if still alive. Today her remains do not exist or are not found.
St. Catherine, Virgin and Martyr, her Feast day is November 25, and she is the Patron Saint of students, unmarried girls, apologists.
"And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath,." Act's 2:17-19
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena. Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.