My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT KATHERINE OF
ALEXANDRIA (Part III)
The Emperor concentrated all his attention on the holy Katherine but he was unable to vanquish her with philosophical arguments, He ordered that she be stripped 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.
The Merciful Lord did not abandon His Saint; daily, He sent food to her by a dove. He Himself, the Good Judge of the contest, then came in great glory with the heavenly Host to visit and strengthen Katherine, saying, "Do not weaken, My beloved daughter, for I am with thee, and no torment shall touch thee, in thine endurance thou will bring many to Me, and thou shalt receive many crowns and rewards!" The Lord said these things to the Saint during the night. At dawn, the emperor, sitting on the throne, ordered that the Saint be brought to him. She was taken into the palace, her spiritual qualities shining brightly so that even the bystanders were dazzled by the light of her beauty. The emperor, beside himself, assumed that one of the guards had given her food. He was of a mind to punish the guards.
The holy maiden did not wish to see punished those who were not responsible, so she disclosed the truth and said, "No one gave me sustenance, O emperor, for Christ provided for me, as He doth for all His servants." During the exchange with the emperor, 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 wheel 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 put into effect.
In three days’ time, that awful apparatus was readied. When they brought the holy 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 tie, but do thou as thou desirest!" The emperor then ordered that they cast the Saint, bound, before the wheels and rotate them violently, do 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. Those who stood about were awestricken, witnessing this terrible sight; and they cried out, "Great is the God of the Christians!" The emperor raged with a blind fury, and at once sought to devise a new way to torture Saint Katherine.
On the following day, they brought Katherine to the Judgment Hall, and the emperor cried aloud, "Thou has caused me great pain and sorrow! Thou has deceived my wife, and my valiant companion and commander-in-chief, who was the strength of my army. Many more evils have visited me on your account and having no control over his senses, issued the order that she be beheaded outside the city limits. The soldiers took the Saint and marched to the site of execution. A large crowd followed them, of both men and women, weeping bitterly at the loss of such a beautiful and wise maiden. The Saint said, "Cease your needless lamentation! Instead, you should rejoice, for I behold my Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, my Maker and Savior, Who is the adornment and crown of the martyrs. I hear Him calling me into Paradise to reign with Him and to rejoice unto life everlasting. Weep not for me, but for yourselves; for you shall go into the unquenchable fire for your unbelief, where you shall sorrow and burn forever."
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 by 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 Dready 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 t the Light of Thy knowledge. Because upon those who invoke Thy name, through me, all they seek for their betterment, that Ty 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 A.D. 305. 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 Holy Tradition, they were translated to the peak of the highest mountain in Sinai, which now bears her name.
Truly, this is the account of the Martyrdom of the all-wise and remarkable Katherine, who so loved Christ, the Heavenly Bridegroom, that she disdained wealth, glory, and every vain enjoyment. Therefore, she now rejoices and delights with the Choirs of Saints unto endless ages. Amen. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church].
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God