What we know of Catherine of Alexandria comes handed down through centuries of church tradition. A Roman governor’s daughter, she is believed to have lived from 287-305 AD.
You’re standing in the thriving Egyptian metropolis of Alexandria, just outside the city governor’s house. The door opens; all around you, bystanders’ heads turn to see a girl of about 18 march into the streets.
“Who is she?” you ask a nearby merchant paused in his tracks.
“Catherine, of course,” he whispers. “Who doesn’t know of the governor’s daughter? Beware of her, traveler. She may be beautiful as a Nile lily, but her words have persuaded hundreds to join the Christian cult. Besides, why she, a girl, should study philosophy, science, languages, and medicine no one can say. And why she refuses to marry—”
But you can’t catch the rest of his sentence—not when you need to follow Catherine. Tracking her determined steps, you eventually find her seeking audience before Emperor Maxentius himself!
“It isn’t right to kill them,” she challenges the emperor, “you must stop these persecutions against Christians.”
Clearly, this girl’s got guts!
The emperor’s eyes narrow. He summons 50 pagan philosophers, his wisest orators, to silence this fiendish female’s pro-Christian arguments. Not only does she win the ensuing debate, but her irrefutable logic also compels several listeners to themselves become Christians! These converts taste the consequences of their treason immediately, but the execution is too light a sentence for Catherine. No, she must be thoroughly scourged. Imprisoned. Condemned to death by the breaking wheel.
While she awaits her fate, 200 visitors seek her in prison—and not one remains unconverted. Finally, the executioners lead Catherine to the wheel. But instead of the wheel breaking her, she breaks it upon contact. A quick blow by sword ushers Catherine into eternity.