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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Patron saint of students, unmarried girls and apologists
Saint Catherine was born in 287 AD in Alexandria, a city in Egypt. She is believed to have been of noble birth, quite likely a princess. At the age of fourteen, she had a vision of Mary with Jesus and became a Christian.
Alexandria was part of the Roman Empire at the time, which was often very cruel to Christians. In 305 AD, Emperor Maxentius was persecuting Christians in Alexandria. Despite only being eighteen years old, Catherine visited him to try and stop him.
Catherine was put before a council of people by Maxentius and questioned about her faith. She was so persuasive about her faith that some of the pagans became Christians. These men were executed and Catherine was arrested and tortured. She still refused to give up her faith though.
Maxentius tried to break her one more time. He proposed to Catherine, offering to marry her if she stopped being a Christian. Of course, Catherine turned him down, even though marrying him would have made her a rich and powerful woman. Not to mention, keep her alive. So he ordered her to be executed on the breaking wheel, a really horrible way to die. Legend has it that when she touched the wheel it shattered into pieces. Instead, the emperor had her beheaded.
Many Roman Catholics revere her to this day as one of the virgin saints of the early Church. Today she is remembered in popular culture on November 5th, when 'Catherine Wheel' fireworks are set alight.