St. Catherine of Alexandria is honored as one of the fourth-century virgin martyrs. According to legend, she came from an educated pagan family, but as a teenager converted to Christianity. She spoke out against the Roman emperor Maxentius for his persecution of Christians. When she won a debate with 50 of his philosophers and in doing so won 200 converts to Christ, he attempted to have her killed on a spiked wheel. When Catherine touched the wheel, it shattered, and so he had her beheaded instead. She was an important saint in the Middle Ages following the reported rediscovery of her body at Mount Sinai, which became a popular pilgrimage destination. It is said that Catherine decreed she would only consent to marry someone who possessed greater intelligence, beauty, and wealth than she did, and that she found this person only in Christ. Her feast day is November 26.
Questions for Reflection:
- Catherine of Alexandria found the fulfillment of her dreams in God, and she was willing to give up her very life in order to remain true to that dream. Symbolically, virginity represents being whole, having purity and a single purpose of mind and heart, as Catherine did. How can you relate her spiritual virginity to your life?
- When have you experienced God as the fulfillment of your dreams?
- Catherine found the qualities she was looking for only in Christ. What do you find in Christ that you can’t find elsewhere?