St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

The Anglican Calendar observes the feast of St Catherine on November 25th. According to tradition, Catherine was born to King Costus & Queen Sabinella, who rule the city of Alexandria. She was well-educated from childhood; and she made a vow that she would never marry anyone unless he matched her in beauty, intelligence, wealth, and dignity. Then at the age of fourteen she met Jesus Christ. “His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world." Catherine refused to marry any one else. Many were converted to Christ because of her faith & witness. She also spoke out against the persecution of Christians in Alexandria and in the Roman Empire as a whole. All of this brought Catherine to the attention of the authorities; and the Emperor Maxentius brought in a team of philosophers & scholars to try to persuade young Catherine to deny her faith in Christ. Not only did their efforts fail, but several of the pagan sages were also converted to Christ; and they were executed as a result. The furious Maxentius ordered Catherine tortured over an extended period, but her steadfastness in faith made even more converts to Christ. Finally Catherine was broken on a spiked wheel and beheaded.
There is debate among scholars over whether St Catherine actually existed. Her legend is similar to the account of the martyr Dorothea of Alexandria found in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. Maxentius ordered the young Christian Dorothea to become his mistress; and when she refused she lost her inheritance and was banished. Catherine may be a composite figure, whose story draws on the stories of a number of female Christian martyrs. Nevertheless, the story of St Catherine was so popular, that, when her reputed relics were discovered, the nearby Monastery of the Transfiguration on Mt Sinai was dedicated to Catherine as well. This monastery is a treasure trove of ancient Christian art & manuscripts in keeping with Catherine’s reputation for learning as well as faith. Several shrines & churches in England were dedicated to the saint; and St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, was founded on November 25th, 1473, to promote the study of philosophy & theology. St James’ Church (ACC) in Cleveland has a very impressive statue of St Catherine, holding the spiked wheel, the instrument of her martyrdom. Christians in modern Egypt suffer for their faith today as did Catherine and her fellow martyrs of Roman Egypt.