Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saint of the Day

St. Catherine of Alexandria
St. Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio


One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, St. Catherine of Alexandria is one of the great early saints of the Church. A highly intelligent young woman from a noble family, she took it upon herself to try to convince the Emperor Maxentius of his error in persecuting her fellow Christians. Unable to hold his own in debate with Catherine, the emperor set the task of disproving her to a host of court lawyers and philosphers who were equally thwarted by the bright young woman with truth on her side.

Maxentius, the story goes, was called away on military business, and upon his return, found not only the high court official Phophyrius and the palace guard converted to the Faith, but also his own wife! This, of course, condemned Catherine and all her converts. Her iconography shows her with a broken wheel, the instrument of torture that Emperor Maxentius first tried to break her upon. This falling apart at her touch, she was beheaded.

St. Catherine is called upon as patroness by a wide variety of clients! She's the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, and millers, among other working vocations. St. Catherine's was one of the heavenly voices that aided St. Joan of Arc. She appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans and the Dominican order adopted her as their special protectress.

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Who are the Fourteen Holy Helpers?

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The Fourteen Holy Helpers were formed into a heavenly band, so to speak, in fourteenth century Germany (Rhineland, to be exact), as an aid in a time of particular health calamity: the Black Death. Originally, all of the fourteen were called upon for specific health problems and were known to be particularly effective, thus adding to the popularity of their following. As the centuries progressed, their lists of specialties were added to, and include the following:

St. Achatius, against headaches

St. Barbara, against fever, lightning, fire, and explosions

St. Blaise, against diseases of the throat

St. Catherine, sudden death and by philosophers, students and lawyers
St. Christopher, bubonic plague and by travelers

St. Cyriacus, tempations on the deathbed and against eye disease

St. Denis, against headaches and rabies
St. Erasmus, against cramps and other stomach ailments

St. Eustace, against family discord and by hunters and from fire of all kinds, including eternal fire

St. George, health of domestic animals, by soldiers and against skin diseases

St. Giles, against the plague, for a good confession, against epilepsy, insanity, sterility and cases of demonic possession

St. Margaret, by pregnant women and during childbirth

St. Pantaleon, against phthisis and other wasting disease.

St. Vitus (or Guy), against epilepsy

2 comments:

Bia said...

Caravaggio is one of my favorite painters! I didn't know all the 14Holy Helpers, so thanks for the info. God bless.

Lisa said...

Yes, I love Caravaggio, too. His paintings are so real, and the colors are so rich!