Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Girl Named Katherine

Here's the 411 about our latest entry in Women Who Rock, a girl named Katherine. 
  • Born with a silver spoon in her mouth.  Family had status and cash.
  • Highly educated and especially skilled at debate. 
  • Stunningly beautiful.
  • And finally, she was well aware of all of the above and prided herself on it. 
Yes, our Katherine was that girl that made you green with envy because she was both valedictorian and prom queen.  And her parents got her a candy apple red convertible BMW for her 16th birthday. Okay that was an exaggeration, Katherine could not have received a BMW because she was born into late 3rd century Egypt. Maybe she would have gotten a really awesome chariot though. At any rate, Katherine was smart and pretty and rich and well, sort of of herself.  When it came time for her to find a spouse her "only" requirements were that the gentleman had to surpass her in nobility, wealth, comeliness and wisdom.  Oh, is that all?  You get my drift here I think.

Thankfully though, she had a very observant mother.  She knew that her daughter possessed all the traits that were "valuable" according to the standards of the world, but Katherine's mom, a secret Christian, also knew that her daughter needed one more thing.  So, when the time was right, Katherine was introduced to her mother's spiritual father, a Christian monk who lived outside of town.  Her mother sent her there to get "advice" as to how to find this perfect mate, but also with the real hope that Katherine would soon realize that there was something missing from her seemingly perfect life and that was a true knowledge of God.  

Well, you can probably guess what happened.  Katherine becomes a Christian, her pride finally exposed to her and she becomes an even more incredible personality.   She's got beauty, she's got brains and now, most importantly, she has God's grace and power.  Seriously, there was no stopping her.  Katherine left the philosophers speechless in their debates in the public squares and converted them to Christianity through her irrefutable arguments.   She even converted the pagan emperor Maximian's wife, Augusta.  I told you she was good.

Ultimately Katherine paid the price for her belief in Jesus Christ.  The emperor couldn't take the humiliation and set out to torture and kill her.  Much to his chagrin, in the process of her martyrdom, which took some time because his methods miraculously failed at first, another 200 were converted by her fearless witness to the truth of Christianity.  Finally on November 24th, 310 AD, 1700 years ago today, Katherine finally received the martyr's crown and entered into her true Bridegroom's presence. 

Okay, I know...that was really really abridged.  For a more interesting and detailed version, click here.  It isn't very long, it may take 2-3 minutes to read but it is much more in depth than my little bit above.

So, as you can probably guess, this girl Katherine, is actually St. Katherine the Great Martyr.  She is my patron saint and that of many Christian women bearing the name Katherine or a derivative thereof.

This icon prayer card can be purchased from Come and See Icons.
 St. Katherine is one of the more popular saints, and since she lived prior to the schism of the Christian East (Orthodox Christianity) and the Christian West (Roman Catholics) in 1054 AD, she is held in high regard by both bodies of believers.  Probably the most famous Orthodox Christianity monastery on earth is dedicated to St. Katherine with her remaining relics residing there. St. Katherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai has been around since the 6th century and to this day is still fully operational.  Click here for more information on this incredible place which holds the majority of the Codex Sinaiticus, the most complete collection of the New Testament from over 1600 years ago.  Here's a fun fact for you...the head librarian at St. Katherine's Monastery is a former American Baptist from Texas.  Now an Orthodox Christian, Fr. Justin is the only American to have ever lived at St.Katherine's monastery.  
As one who honors St. Katherine as my patron saint, I have often contemplated her life story. Certainly there were many miraculous things that occurred (read the link for the juicy details) but I always wondered about her absolute certitude about Christ, even until a tortuous death. Mental arguments are not enough for one to die for, so there HAD to be something else, a complete transformation in her very core, and so much so that she could care less for her "perfect" life in this world. How many of us spend our lives in the vain pursuit of beauty, the acquisition of wealth and knowledge and/or hopefully fame and recognition? St. Katherine had it all naturally and counted it as nothing in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ.  That's a woman who rocks.

So on this day, the 1700th anniversary of St. Katherine's death, I'm going to try to keep my mind and heart, where she kept hers, focused on Christ with the hopes that I too, may assimilate my spiritual life to one she acquired. 
"Let us praise Katherine the radiant bride of Christ, guardian of Sinai, our helper and supporter. By the power of the Spirit, she silenced the arrogance of the ungodly. Crowned as a martyr, she now implores great mercy for all."
This is St. Katherine's hymn which can be sung today, her namesday, on every continent in the world. 


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

This is gorgeous ! I love the modern perspective you have put on the story.

I've written about St Nicholas from a slightly different perspective over at

Desert Dweller said...


Thank you for your kind comment.

It took me a few days, butI just read (and commented) on yours as well. The story was so beautiful and touching, I'm going to make sure I have my eldest read it.