My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE LIFE AND MARTYRDOM OF SAINT KATHERINE OF
ALEXANDRIA (Part II)
The iniquitous emperor, obsessed with unmatched zeal for the lifeless pagan gods, was so senseless and irrational that he issued a decree to every city and village, enjoining all to comply with the following: "…to assemble, without delay in the capital, that we may render tribute to the supreme gods in a fitting manner… Whosoever disregards this edict and doth dare to worship any other god, will be subject to disciplinary action and punishment."
Katherine, devout and beauteous, witnessed this grievous shipwreck of souls who were compelled to commit sacrilege, thereby escaping temporal death, only to betray their souls to everlasting condemnation. Wounded profoundly to the depths of her heart over their ruin, she felt sympathy for their woes. Therefore, inspired by divine zeal, she went, with a small retinue of servants, to the site of the temple where the foolish ones were performing their sacrifices. When she paused at the temple threshold, all were distracted by her exquisite comeliness which mirrored her inner beauty. She then sent word to the emperor that she had information of vital importance, and he summoned her to enter.
The all-beautiful Katherine approached the emperor, first bowing, and then boldly and fearlessly declaring: "O emperor, thou shouldest be the first to know that thou art deceived in worshipping perishable and lifeless idols as gods. It is an absolute disgrace to be so manifestly blind, as fools, to the truth, in thy worship of such abominations…".
"The emperor, noting her free manner and speech, did not wish to exchange words, fearing defeat and shame by her arguments. He made the following pretext: "… I will bring together my rhetoricians. Then thou shalt comprehend the feebleness of thy syllogisms, and know what is in thy best interest and embrace our beliefs."
At this juncture, the emperor ordered that the martyr be placed under heavy guard. He then sent out a notice to all cities under his rule, announcing: "I your emperor… welcome your presence, forthwith, that we may invoke the most wise god Hermes and, together with your knowledge, may stop the mouth of a very clever young woman… and has treated scornfully the exalted gods…"
One hundred and fifty elite and scholarly men, who have keen minds and were seasoned orators, responded and assembled. The martyr was commanded to be brought in. Many, by then, had filled the amphitheater to see and hear the outcome. Yet, before they commenced, the Archangel Michael appeared to Katherine, encouraging her, and saying, "O child of the Lord, be not afraid; for the Lord will add more wisdom to thine own, to vanquish the one hundred and fifty philosophers.
The Saint and Martyr Katherine overwhelmed the philosophers rendering them speechless. The emperor, on the other hand, seeing that all was lost directed the philosophers to refute the martyr in rebuttal. They declined, saying, "We cannot oppose the truth, in view of the fact that our superior has been defeated." Then the emperor’s anger was inflamed, and he ordered that a fire be kindled in the midst of the city and the orators be cast therein. As they heard this, they fell at the feet of the Saint, begging that the Lord might forgive them–for they had sinner unwittingly–and that they be allowed to receive Baptism and the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Saint was elated and addressed them, "You are blessed and fortunate, for you have left darkness and come to the Light of the truth, abandoning a decadent and earthly king, and have come to the immortal and heavenly One…" With these words, the holy Katherine encouraged them, sealing them individually on the forehead with the sign of the Cross, and sent them to their martyrdom in thanksgiving and rejoicing. The soldiers cast them into the flames, jubilant as they were, on the 17th of November. At dusk that day, a group of God-loving Christians went to gather up their holy relics, and found their holy remains safe and intact, not one hair having been singed by the fire…"
The emperor now concentrated all his attention on the holy Katherine and ordered that she be stripped of the royal mantle and lashed without pity with whips of rawhide. After this, they scourged her about the stomach and back for two hours. Her virginal body, once fair, became lacerated and unsightly from the welts. So much blood flowed that the ground was dyed red. Yet, the holy one withstood all this with much courage, to the amazement of the bystanders. After sunset, the savage beast ordered that she be cast into prison and not be given food or water for twelve days, until he might devise a method to put her to death.
At another time a certain prefect named Hursasaden, an ill-tempered and sadistic man tried to win the emperor’s favor. Out of his perverted intellect, he proposed, "I, O emperor, have invented an instrument of torture wherewith either thou shalt win over this maiden, or she shall experience an atrocious death. Thou shouldest order the construction of four wooden wheels attached to an axle, from which steel blades and other sharp spikes protrude. Two of the wheels will rotate to the right, and two to the left. The maiden would be placed below, bound, at its center, so that when the wheels turn, her body will be completely mutilated. However, first exhibit the wheels turning, so as to instill terror in her, that she may do as she is ordered; if not, let her receive an evil death." The idea pleased the emperor, and he ordered the plan into effect.
In three days’ time, that awful apparatus was readied. When they brought Katherine forth, they turned the wheels with a mighty force so as to frighten her. The emperor said, "Behold, by this instrument thou shalt receive a bitter death, if thou dost not worship the gods!" She replied, "Many times already I have told thee my opinion. Therefore, waste no more time, but do as thou desirest!" The emperor then ordered that they cast the Saint, bound, before the wheels and rotate them violently so that with rapid passes thereof she might suffer a bitter death. But, by the intervention of the grace and will of God, it did not come to pass in this way. An Angel of the Lord came down from heaven and aided the holy Katherine, who was instantly loosed from the bonds and rendered whole and uninjured. The wheels spun away on their own, striking many of the unbelievers, and bringing upon them a hideous death. The emperor raged with a blind fury, and at once sought to devise a new ay to torture Saint Katherine.
Finally, the emperor issued the order that she be beheaded outside the city limits. On their arrival at the site of execution, the Saint made the following prayer: "My Lord Jesus Christ and God, I thank Thee that Thou hast secured my feet on the rock of patience and hast directed my steps. Stretch out Thy Sacred hand, which was nailed to the Cross for our sake, and receive my soul, which today is separated from the body, out of love for Thee. Be Thou mindful, O Lord, that we are but flesh and blood, and do Thou forgive my transgressions, which I committed unwittingly, before Thy dread judgment seat, but wash them away with the blood that I shed for Thee, and grant that my body, cleaved for Thee, will become invisible to those who seek it, keeping it safe and secure wheresoever Thou dost wish. Look down from on high upon Thy people who surround me, O Lord, and guide them to the Light of Thy knowledge. Bestow upon those who invoke Thy name, through me, all they seek for their betterment, that Thy works may be praised by all and that Thou mayest be glorified with Thine unoriginate Father and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto endless ages. Amen.
After uttering this prayer, she told the executioner to carry out the sentence. He raised his sword and cut off her precious head on the 25th of November, in about the year 305 A.D. Again, our God desired to honor His Saint and venerable martyr and one miracle followed another! At her beheading, all the bystanders witnessed milk flow from her sacred head instead of blood. Thereupon,, at that hour, her revered and precious relics were devoutly translated by holy Angels and deposited on Mount Sinai in a secret place. According to Tradition, they were translated to the peak of the highest mountain in Sinai, which now bears her name.
Saint Katherine’s Relics and Monastery: Centuries later, guided by a dream, monks of the Monastery of Holy Transfiguration in Sinai, erected by emperor Justinian in the 6th century found her precious body. They brought her down from the mountain and placed her in a golden casket in the church. The sweet fragrance of her sacred relics is today a continuous miracle. The Sinai monastery became widely known, particularly in Europe, when Saint Symeon the Metaphrastes, in the 10th century, recorded her Life. Saint Symeon brought the Saint’s holy relics to Rouen and Treves, in France. Her fame spread so rapidly in Europe that the Monastery of Sinai came to be known as the Monastery of Saint Katherine. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes)
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Katherine. Plagal of First Tone.
LET us praise the all-lauded and noble bride of Christ, the goldy
Katherine, the guardian of Sinai and its defense, who is also out
support and succor and our help; for with the Holy Spirit’s sword
she hath silenced brilliantly the clever among the godless, and
being crowned as a Martyr, she now doth ask great mercy for us
Kontakion Hymn of Saint Katherine. Second Tone
ROUSE up now a choir, O ye that love they martyred Saints, august
and inspired, acclaiming the supremely-wise Martyr Katherine,
who hath proclaimed and preached of Christ on the stadium and
hath trampled the serpent down and spat on the knowledge of
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George