Saint Catherine of Alexandria



A Depiction of St Catherine

According to legend, Saint Catherine of Alexandria was born in 287, the daughter of Constus, governor of Alexandria in Egypt. She had a very good education and declared to her parents that she would only enter into marriage with someone who surpassed her in reputation, wealth, beauty and wisdom. She was sent, by her mother who was secretly a Christian, to a hermit. The hermit told her of a youth who surpassed her in everything, such that,

"His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world." She became a Christian and was transported to heaven in a vision and betrothed to Christ by the Virgin Mary


The legend goes on to tell how she is said to have visited the Roman Emperor (who could have been Maximian, Maximinus II, or Maxentius), to try to convince him that the way he was persecuting the Christians was wrong. It states that Catherine succeeded in converting his wife, the Empress, and also many pagan wise men who were sent by the Emperor to dispute with her.  She was ordered into prison and when people who came to visit her were converted she was condemned to death on the breaking wheel in the year 305. The wheel itself broke when she touched it, so she was beheaded.  


St Catherine’s principal symbol is the spiked wheel, which has been become known as the Catherine Wheel and she it the patron saint of: apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.), archivists, dying people, educators, girls, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, Balliol College, maidens, mechanics, millers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, scholars,                  A Catherine Wheel

schoolchildren, scribes, secretaries, spinsters, stenographers, students, tanners, teachers, theologians, University of Paris, unmarried girls, wheelwrights, Żejtun, Żurrieq