Catherine of Alexandria was born to a noble family of Alexandria; she
refused to marry the Emperor Maxetius himself because of her previous “mystic
marriage” to Christ. The emperor ordered 50 Alexandrian philosophers to
prove to her the absurdity of her faith, but she effectively regarded all
their arguments. The emperor, enraged by this rebuff, ordered the philosophers
to be burnt alive and Catherine to be broken on a spiked wheel. The wheel
miraculously fell to pieces, and finally Catherine was beheaded.
The part of her legend also says that in her vision she underwent a mystic marriage with Christ, who put a gold ring on her finger. Another version of the legend says that when Catherine was praying to a small icon of Virgin with Child, he turned his head and placed a ring on her finger.
Catherine of Alexandria is patron saint of young girls, students, clergy, wheelwrights and millers. In fine art she is often represented with a wheel, or a part of a broken wheel; in episode of her “wedding” angels usually surround her.
See: Hans Baldung The Three Kings Altarpiece.
Fra Bartolommeo The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine.
Giovanni Bellini. Madonna and Child between SS. Catherine and Ursula.
Botticelli Madonna and Child with Six Saints,
Caravaggio St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Correggio The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine, with St. Sebastian, The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine.
Lucas Cranach the Elder The Betrothal of St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Catherine Altarpiece.
Carlo Crivelli. St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Peter, and Mary Magdalene.
Gerard David. The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine.
Gentile da Fabriano. Virgin and Child with St. Nicholas and St. Catherine. Betrothal of Catherine of Alexandria.
Pavel Filonov. St. Catherine.
Fra Angelico. Madonna with Angels and the Saints Dominic and Catherine.
Lorenzo Lotto Madonna with Child, St. Catherine, and St. Jacob, St. Catherine.
Hans Memling The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine.
Pietro Perugino. The Virgin and Child Surrounded by Two Angels, St. Rose, and St. Catherine.
Raphael St. Catherine,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti St. Catherine.
Luca Signorelli. SS. Augustine, Catherine of Alexandria, and Anthony of Padua.
Titian Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and a Rabbit.
Paolo Veronese. Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
Rogier van der Weyden St. Catherine, St. Catherine of Alexandria.
All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time by Robert Ellsberg. : Crossroad/Herder & Herder, 1997.
A Stolen Tongue by Sheri Holman. Anchor, 1998.
De Sainte Katerine: An Anonymous Picard Version of the Life of st Catherine of Alexandria by William MacBain. Rowman & Littlefield, 1989.
The Life of Saint Katherine (TEAMS Middle English Texts) by John Capgrave, Karen A. Winstead (Editor). Western Michigan Univ, 1999.